Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Toys

New Jersey Officially Limits G-Forces on Coasters 364

Posted by chrisd
from the put-your-hand-in-the-air dept.
Well, NJ has (sadly) become the first state in the US at limiting G-Forces on roller coasters. The regulation calls for prohibition of forces greater than 5.6 that last longer than one second. NJ gave itself the right to regulate rides after an accident where two were killed from a malfunction, not excessive Gs. (A ride I rode once -- It's a kiddie-sized coaster, not what you'll find at Cedar Point, OH. The two killed were a seven year old and her mother.) This is also despite the lack of scientific evidence linking G forces to brain injury, and 320 million riders who turn out just fine every year. One brain-injury specialist interviewed said that you can exert 10 Gs just plopping into a chair, saying the state was "a little misguided."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New Jersey Officially Limits G-Forces on Coasters

Comments Filter:
  • A Chair?? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lord Bitman (95493)
    Wow! 10G's for over a second just from plopping into a chair, really? No? Okay then I guess you can stop missing the fucking point, in that case.
    • Yes. I am pretty sure that if a person experiences 100 m/s^2 of acceleration for an extended period of time they will pass out from that. I think this is above the figures I saw on the television program that put regular people in an accelerating device of NASA's or something like that. You don't see people passing out from jump-sitting on a chair too often, so I imagine duration has an important affect on the brain.
    • Re:A Chair?? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by delcielo (217760)
      Momentary and transient G-loads are something that have been fairly well documented. However, the "plopping in the chair" theory still doesn't exactly hold water in this case.

      If you get a transient 10-g load by plopping into your chair, what do you suppose you incurr when you get banged around in the coaster?

      I don't think you get brain damage; but I also think that you should be able to build an exciting coaster without having excessive g-loads. Sustained loads of 4-5 g's can be very exciting.

      They are in airplanes.
  • Six Flags Great Adventure in NJ is one of the best parks for coasters that I've ever been to. Gotta love the Scream Machine!
  • Hmmm. (Score:2, Redundant)

    by fanatic (86657)
    that you can exert 10 Gs just plopping into a chair,

    Sure but that's for a really short period, nothing like a second.

    • It's called Jerk. The rate of accelleration with respect to time.

      I don't like the idea of Jerky roller coasters.
      They make me feel as if I am getting punched.

      I think I could stand higher Gs when the acceleration in longer.

      I think the point is: Consider more variables!
      I could probably find a way to kill somebody with a 5 G roller coaster, and have the same person live through a 10G roller coaster (though... I'd don't know for sure)

      If I were subject to uniformed acceleration, it would be as if I were heavier... (I was going to say had a heavy body suite... but I remembered that the blood has inertia, and would like to stay where it is more than my bones witch are rigid so the blood could FLOW to the head or feet...)

  • Dangerous G Forces? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toupsie (88295) on Monday September 16, 2002 @12:12AM (#4263812) Homepage
    This is also despite the lack of scientific evidence linking G forces to brain injury, and 320 million riders who turn out just fine every year.

    Former Astronaut, "Buzz" Aldrin [buzzaldrin.com] seems to have suffered no ill effects or brain injury from high Gs [salon.com] from his flights and space shots.


    • > Former Astronaut, "Buzz" Aldrin seems to have suffered no ill effects or brain injury from high Gs from his flights and space shots.

      Yeah, but the kook reportedly suffered somewhat from the law of conservation of momentum.

    • have suffered no ill effects or brain injury from high Gs from his flights and space shots.

      Wasnt George W Bush a fighter pilot? Would explain a lot of stuff.
  • Acceleration Injury (Score:5, Informative)

    by darkwiz (114416) on Monday September 16, 2002 @12:18AM (#4263831)
    Plopping into a chair produces a very short pulse at 10G. That duration is key here. Most people will pass out in prolonged exposure to 10G.

    Most "injuries" related to non-bruising/bone breaking G-forces are from blood deprevation. A really long, tight turn may be enough to deprive your brain of enough blood flow to cause you (or someone with poor circulation to start out with) to pass out. After passing out, you'll just flop around on the ride, where real injury can occur.

    As for direct effects, we of course have the very unscientific number of "healthy patrons" which gives us some comfort with the current state. However, it isn't insane to believe that large exposure to prolonged, high-G roller coasters could pose real health hazards. Imagine if someone built a 10G sled that accelerated you linearly, then radially for say 30 seconds. Most of the people on the ride would have a hard time walking after, and many may have passed out.

    Setting reasonable standards isn't a bad thing. If someone wants to build one faster or whatever, they could always file a variance with the locality if they could prove it was safe. This just puts their rides up to (more) public scrutiny.
    • If a ride's g-loading is sufficiently high and sustained to cause patrons to black out and injure themselves surely they'd find themselves getting sued for negligence, making such a regulation unnecessary anyway...

      By the way, 5.6 G's is pretty damned high anyway, isn't it? I dunno whether I'd particularly like to ride a coaster much above that for any length of time. I'd hasten to add I wouldn't want to stop consenting adults doing so if they knew what they were in for, though.

      • by Ictinus (31155) on Monday September 16, 2002 @04:05AM (#4264346)
        5.6G is pretty high I think.
        I once went for a joy flight in a twin seater (side by side) ex Military Jet Provost (I think they were training jets). We were not using any anti-G suits and the pilot asked if I'd done any acrobatics before. I had in a prop plane, so I said yes.
        We had done some groovy acrobatics including a loop which had required me to push blood back to my head to prevent passing out when he put us into another loop... I was having great fun!...
        I can only think that it was a tighter loop (higher G's) than the first because I saw grey sooner than expected and the next thing I remember was...

        hmm, I can't move my arms.... why can't I move my arms... and my legs they are shaking like crazy, how embarassing. Surely the pilot will be noticing, control yourself man!

        Then as I came to, I could see (and feel) that the pilot had a hold of my (crossed) hands preventing me from stiking him in the head as my body spasmed in the seat.

        The pilot said we had been doing just below 5 G's.
        So... I don't think many people would want many G's sustained over more than a second (not in a virtical loop anyway).
        I still enjoyed the flight though :^)
    • Fine (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      Show me scientific evidence that the standard they set is a well reasoned one. I have no problem wiht the setting of safety regulations like this but ONLY if there is reason to believe they are actually doing some good.

      Can you show me evidence, that meets the criterion of the doctrine of strong inference, that a 5.6G maximum is consistent with safety for roller coasters? I can sure as hell provide hundreds of thousands (probably tens of millions) of examples of poeple that have rode on any given coaster and suffered no ill effects.

  • six flags. . blech. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by naelurec (552384)
    W00H00! Cedar Point mentioned on /. YIPPIE! As far as the article .. I think Six Flags should really maintain their rides better .. I was at Cedar Pointe (Sandusky, OH) and two weeks afterwards went to Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, CA) -- The drop in ride maintenance quality at Magic Mountain was very significant. The rides were rusty, very rough, several rides were shutdown "indefinitely" not to mention the wide array of ride parts scattered around the base of the rides (I'd assume due to continued switching of failing parts?) In any case, I think limiting the G's without any true justification is nonsense. The state should be going after poorly maintained coasters and invoking laws that maintain a higher quality with regards to maintenance and safety of the coasters.
  • by billbaggins (156118) on Monday September 16, 2002 @12:26AM (#4263852)
    Quoting from the article...
    They prohibit rides from exceeding G-forces of 5.6 for more than one second, which is similar to national industry practice [emphasis mine]...

    In New Jersey, no existing rides will be affected by the change because none exceed the current limits, Connolly said. The Batman and Robin Ride at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, which has the highest rate, peaks at a G-force of 5.

    So the way I read it, you have some legislators getting together & passing a law that will not affect any currently-existing coasters and that basically reflects what the roller-coaster manufacturers are doing anyway. Now everyone that voted for it can go back to their districts and say that they vote "public safety" and point to this enormous no-op of a bill.

    Can you say "election year politics", boys and girls? I knew you could...

    • by mshiltonj (220311) <<mshiltonj> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday September 16, 2002 @02:07AM (#4264100) Homepage Journal
      So the way I read it, you have some legislators getting together & passing a law that will not affect any currently-existing coasters and that basically reflects what the roller-coaster manufacturers are doing anyway.

      It also sets a precdents. If this law passes without challenge, and five years from now they decide to lower the maximum Gs from 5.6 to 3.2, which they undoubtedly will, those who oppose will have no legal legs to stand on.

      This is no different from companies picking much smaller companies or individuals to sue to set precendents (for DMCA, Napsters, etc), so the precedent can referred to when going after larger competitors with deeper pockets.

      Or when the 15th Constitutional Amendment was passed (Income Tax Amendment). That was billed as "We are only going to tax the top 1% of income earners". You can see how that worked out.

      Every new law is almost certainly a step in the wrong direction. But what do we expect? We elect legislators to legislate, don't we?
  • G's (Score:3, Informative)

    by JohnsonWax (195390) on Monday September 16, 2002 @12:27AM (#4263855)
    Well, it depends a LOT on the nature of the force. Plopping into a chair is a force that the body is pretty well equipped to handle. Car accidents (suddent deceleration) can toss about very heavy G loads - 25 G's isn't unusual. A lot of auto safety now is figuring out how to mitigate those forces (airbags soften the forces relative to the dashboard) and how to redirect them into a more survivable form (why small children ride backward - we can take more G's from our back than our front)

    5-6 Gs in the manner that rollercoasters deliver are pretty high (forces that an unsupported head will need to resist against). Sustained for even a few seconds and some people will pass out, and most people will be sore, and few will suffer significant problems due to pre-existing conditions. A CART race was postponed last year when drivers complained of dizziness and difficulty breathing with G forces around 5, though it was for fairly sustained periods.

    I think the problem boils down to more people riding coasters, more high G coasters, and more people that aren't in sufficient shape to handle such forces. The number of injuries and deaths aren't high, but for an activity that is supposed to be entertainment, I suspect our tolerance for casualties is pretty low.
    • Re:G's (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tiohero (592208)
      A few years ago I rode the "Superman" coaster in Darien lake, NY. For the next week my neck was so stiff that I felt like I had been in a car crash. I was in some serious pain. I'm fairly young, athletic, lift weights, average weight/height, and not a "sissy". I would never ride that coaster again.

      I suspect that a lot of others come away from these rides with minor injuries like this and don't report it. This sort of legislation may seem silly until you experience an injury.

      The G forces and heavy vibration on a coaster are nothing like those in car. (unless in a rollover!) Up till now, themeparks have "policed" themselves and I bet a lot of "minor" injuries reports are suppressed. I think that the head restrains and shock dampers on these things could be better designed.

  • by orbital3 (153855) on Monday September 16, 2002 @12:28AM (#4263856)
    From the article:

    G-force is the pressure put on the body when it is suddenly accelerated from a motionless position, resulting in a person's body being pushed back into their seat.

    What the author just described here is half nonsense and half the wrong thing. Acceleration from any "position", motionless or not results in a force being applied to bodies going along for a ride. Secondly, the suddenness, or rate of change of acceleration, is jerk, not acceleration. G-forces are acceleration, not jerk.

    That said, I personally think the regulation of the g-forces isn't really going to help much. Whenever I ride a rollercoaster, the sudden acceleration making my head knock into the supports is definitely the least fun part to me, and my guess is that's what causes the alleged brain injury, not sustained g-forces.
  • by sasha328 (203458) on Monday September 16, 2002 @12:33AM (#4263867) Homepage
    The prevailing attitude from the 30 odd replies I've read so far, is something like this: They are sil;ly and stupid bureaucrats who are limiting our enjoyment in something totally harmeless.
    My reply to this is, a 5.6 G turn will produce the same sensation as a 4.6 G turn. So the fun is still exactly the same. Besides, for those who have a hard time thinking beyond their own noses, G forces apply to machinery as well as to humans. Lower Gs results in less stress on the machinery, and thus becomes less likely to malfunction. Also, designing for less Gs reduces the cost of construction, which, theoretically, means more roller-coasters.
    • by pezpunk (205653) on Monday September 16, 2002 @02:05AM (#4264095) Homepage
      a few points first. i am a pretty hardcore rollercoaster enthusiast. the law passed in NJ limits coasters to 5.6 G's. well, i know of none in the world that exceed 5.0 G's. so first of all, the law's completely pointless. it's like banning the sticking forks in your eyes. nobody does it anyway.

      second, what few injuries rolloercoaster riders have sustained have NOT come from G forces at all. the ones that weren't the result of a malfunction or user error have come from banging their head into the restraints. this has to do with how well the ride is designed, not the G forces it inflicts. a ride could pull only 1 or two G's but still bloody your ears if it's designed poorly.

      third, this is simply setting a bad precedent. first come the G force regulations, then height and speed regulations follow. at this particular point in time, rollercoasters are taking quantum leaps forward technologically. the advent of complex high-speed 3d software and the hardware to run it, along with the current theme park boom, are allowing coasters to go higher and faster than they ever have before, and do so while providing a smoother, safer ride than has ever been experienced. have you ridden a B&M coaster, or one of S&S's thrust air monsters? any legislation concerning height and speed, for example, would quickly become laughably obsolete. 100 feet was once a monster of a hill (in the 80's!). now there are coasters more than 400 feet tall.

      roller coasters ARE safe. G-forces are NOT dangerous on any roller coasters operating today.
  • This is a personal choice--it doesn't endanger anybody else. I think ride operators should be required to label and state clearly what is known about the dangers, but the state shouldn't prohibit such operations--people should be free to hurt or kill themselves in whatever way they like. But, then, I think the same about both recreational and medical drugs.
  • brain dead (Score:5, Funny)

    by Darth_Burrito (227272) on Monday September 16, 2002 @12:45AM (#4263905)
    This is also despite the lack of scientific evidence linking G forces to brain injury...

    Wait a minute, are you telling me that all those people out there that continue to pay $40/day for park admission, $4/slice of pizza, $3/drink, and then are willing to spend 2-3 hours waiting in line for a 40 second ride... have not suffered some kind of brain damage?
  • I often wonder how many G's are inflicted on my chair at work after eating a Taco Bell lunch.

    It must be terrible.

    If I bounce on it hard enough,when I sit down, sometimes I can re-live the initial experiece.
  • As far as I know, very few if any modern rollercoasters push anything like 5G for over a second. Many can push that many positive vertical Gs for a split second. Over 3Gs side-to-side is rare, and over 2 negative vertical Gs, also rare or nonexistent to my knowledge.

    Lacking existing laws to protect us from such awful dangers, why are so many rollercoasters designed to deliver wimpy 2-4G forces?

    Could it be because high G forces are NO FUN FOR RIDERS?

    Personally, I wish they had made a law forbidding the damn things from snapping my neck side to side with 3-4G lateral transitions. 2Gs right to 2Gs left, for instance, is far more painful than 6 positive vertical Gs.

    But we really need no such laws. Most really painful coasters were designed without the aid of modern computer simulations. Nowadays, coaster designers have a pretty good idea what every section of a ride will feel like before it's built.

    Good coasters rely on surprise, misdirection, and optical illusion more than high G forces.

  • NJ gave itself the right to regulate rides after an accident where two were killed from a malfunction, not excessive Gs.

    I hate this kind of misdirected legislation. It's like the new airline baggage screening requirements (helllooo! The 9/11 hijackers did not have any dangerous checked baggage!). Or gun control laws being passed in reaction to violence committed with illegally-possessed guns. (they were already illegal, see?)
    • I partially agree with you. But:
      It's like the new airline baggage screening requirements (helllooo! The 9/11 hijackers did not have any dangerous checked baggage!).

      Imagine that you're securing a concrete building with 10 identical doors. One day burglars break in through door #4 and you suffer serious losses. Do you upgrade all 10 doors or only #4?

      Go down a layer of abstraction. You have a building with a door, a window and a skylight, each equally resistant to attack. The walls and roof are much more resistant to attack. Burglars break in through the skylight. Do you only upgrade the skylight, or do you upgrade all three entry points?

      This assumes that the new baggage security measures actually make sense. I am not familiar with them, and maybe they make no sense.

      Or gun control laws being passed in reaction to violence committed with illegally-possessed guns. (they were already illegal, see?)

      I'm not advocating gun control, but I think most illegal guns were once legal. Someone buys or steals them and diverts them to illegal use. If they're going to restrict the flow of illegal guns, they have to tighten up the monitoring of legal guns. Of course you may be referring to laws that have nothing to do with this and are just passed for chest-thumping purposes.
  • by Edgewize (262271) on Monday September 16, 2002 @01:04AM (#4263967)
    No current roller coaster in the state of New Jersey comes close to a prolonged force of 5.6+ Gs. Or in any other state, either.

    The law also puts some limits on lateral motion, which is not mentioned in the article. Again, nothing that would impact any currently existing coasters.

    The trend in roller coasters is taller, faster, steeper, and tighter - which is good but only to a point. Sitting in the front of Nitro (at Six Flags Great Adventure in NJ) will always black out my vision in the large corkscrew. I haven't yet found a person who didn't feel extremely light-headed after taking that turn in a front seat. And that turn still isn't close to 5.6 Gs.

    As for the lateral motion restriction, I applaud that. I know people who have bruised the sides of their heads on their harnesses. (The suspended Batman ride is pretty bad in that regard.) If rides keep progressing towards the extreme, some poor guy with weak neck muscles is gonna lose consciousness or even have his skull cracked. Safety limits are a good thing.

    Anyway, this whole "its my body let me abuse it" uprising is pointless. The limits set by this law do not affect your ability to black out or sprain your neck. However, they just might save your life in 5 years when someone tries to build a coaster thats bigger and badder than it ought to be.
    • The big deal is this law is a placebo. New Jersey is a haven for these accidents, which is an obvious sign of faulty inspection practices. Instead of tackling the tougher issue of bribes and laziness, lawmakers start this ridiculous "no more Gs" campaign.
  • The "Scream Machine" coaster at Six Flags in New Jersey seems to induce an unusually large number of neck injuries. Database entries read "Neck pain, neck pain, eye pain, head pain, right side neck pain, back pain, neck pain, right side neck pain...". The consistent pattern indicates there's some motion there that overloads people's necks. Query the Amusement Park Ride Injury Database [saferparks.org] for "Scream Machine".

    Also note that due to heavy lobbying by Disney, official injury reporting is rather weak nationally and in states where Disney has a presence.

  • You know, in a well-run corporation, managers are generally specialized. Accounting managers deal with money, managers in the technical departments deal with things that are technical, etc.

    This scares me about the way democracy works. You have managers (congressmen, senators, judges, legislators, etc..) that decide what goes on in this country, and none of the, are qualified to make every single one of those decisions. How many legistators do you think really understand how G-forces relate to the risks of rollarcoasters?

    Worse, the democratic managers of this country have horrible employers: you and I, the people who hire and fire them by voting. And most of the people in this country (that vote anyway) don't understand most of the issues the managers have to deal with.

    So it sets up a perfect scenario for the politicians to act out of fear of being disliked, or even voted out of office for lack of activity. Case in point, this rollarcoaster issue: a few people died, so voters start looking at the lawmakers to act. The lawmakers are forced to do something, anything, even if what they do is wrong. If they didn't, the people would get angry and possibly vote for someone else come next election.

    Not that I have a better solution, at least not at 2am on a monday morning :)

    • I would just like to remind people (again) that we in the United States do NOT live in a Democracy. We live in a Republic.
      As for the "politicians must do something" argument. Why don't they try telling the truth and educating the public about these types of issues rather than catering to unfounded fears by passing knee-jerk legislation, aka egg cooking laws, roller-coaster G force limits, and the Patriot Act.

  • I live in Ocean City (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Whelkman (58482) on Monday September 16, 2002 @01:10AM (#4263982)
    I rode the said roller coaster many times, though certainly not recently. The last time I rode it must have been 1993 or so, and that ride remains one of the most horrific and memorable events in my memory.

    While going up the incline, I heard several faint but audible metal pinging sounds; these were the sounds of metal ejecting from the machine. Once the roller coaster reached the peak I discovered something awful: the back right corner was not secure! During the whole ride the back bucked and jittered unnaturally, and I honestly thought the thing would come off. Afterward, I told everyone I could about my experience, though no one wants to listen to a hyperactive thirteen year old.

    Though I love to be right, having a mother and her child die to prove it wasn't what I had in mind...though I did say for years the thing would kill people.

    G-Forces my ass; that roller coaster is the same generic thing you see at every carnival. The owners of the park, the Gillian family, have been pocketing inspectors for years. The entire place reeks of disrepair and I refuse to set foot in it. I'm STILL waiting for the litigation against their greedy asses to surface, but they still drive all over town with their fancy cars and personalized parking places.
    • by Hyped01 (541957)
      • I rode the said roller coaster many times, though certainly not recently. The last time I rode it must have been 1993 or so, and that ride remains one of the most horrific and memorable events in my memory.
      Maybe you just need to stop whining and not ride rollercoasters... wanna know the reason why? Read my next response.
      • While going up the incline, I heard several faint but audible metal pinging sounds; these were the sounds of metal ejecting from the machine. Once the roller coaster reached the peak I discovered something awful: the back right corner was not secure! During the whole ride the back bucked and jittered unnaturally, and I honestly thought the thing would come off. Afterward, I told everyone I could about my experience, though no one wants to listen to a hyperactive thirteen year old.
      No one wanted to listen to a thirteen year old (in this case) because he was dead wrong. Rollercoasters are designed with an emergency "braking" system on the upwards incline to prevent it from falling back down uncontrollably if the chain breaks.

      Wooden roller coasters and even some others are pulled to their highest point by a chain much like a massive bike chain. The roller coaster (by the force of gravity) leaves the station, rolls over the chain, loses speed (comes into the incline), has a big tooth on the bottom that is hooked backwards (so it can go over the chain but hooks into it, when the chain's upward/forward rate is in excess of the coaster's), the coaster then rises to the highest point, breaks the crest and falls due to gravity and the ride begins.

      Along many curves and the upward starting track are metal rungs, like a metal rung ladder but not very wide. The coaster has teeth/a tooth much like the one that grabs the chain... big spring loaded device that is continuously being pushed down... if the coaster starts slipping backwards, it grabs...

      COASTER
      [_____________________]
      /(tooth)
      ....
      the tooth because of it's angle rides over the springs, and sounds like (to a certain 13 year old) pieces of metal ejecting from the coaster... almost like metal pins/rivets being popped from it. What said 13 year old was really hearing was the spring pushing the tooth back down once it cleared a safety rung.

      On many new coasters this is done using hydraulic brakes. Hydraulics hold the massive (long) brake pads apart, the coaster has fins on the bottom that slide between them. If there is a system failure or another reason to stop the coaster, the brakes close (with a V wedge opening on both sides that allow the fin to slide between and be "caught" due to friction).

      Some coasters employ both. (Almost all employ this method to stop coasters when they enter the station).

      People hysterically making retarted claims are what can often cause idiotic laws like this. Proper maintenance avoids most all such problems. The rest are due to "unavoidable" mechanical malfunctions that no amount of legislation can prevent.

      -Rob

      www.BinFeeds.com

      • Thank you for the elaborate and helpful explanation. I'd like to debate further, but my memories from ten years ago are not too sharp.

        However, regardless of whether my hypothesis was correct, two facts remain:

        - I was correct: the roller coaster would eventually kill people

        - The roller coaster broke in a fashion consistent with my complaint

        I hardly think asking for proper inspections is "retarded."
    • Hate to say it, but you're dead wrong on the details of the incident. The ride you're referromg to is the 'City Jet' (http://rcdb.com/installationgallery402.htm?Pictur e=2).

      The accident occurred on a ride called the 'Wild Wonder', installed in 1999, and removed later that same year. After modifications to fix the design flaw, that ride now operates at Magic Springs park in Arkansas.

      What basically happened was that the car slipped backwards down the hill (after two diffirent safety systems simultaneously failed...) and the two passengers were ejected as the train rounded a very tight radius turn.

    • Made that way! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bluGill (862)

      You need to study roller coaster design a little more. Many roller coasters are designed to look and feel like they are going to fall apart at any moment. I've ridden those that are, and those that are not. I avoid the roller coasters that feel soild becuase they are no fun. (In general the soild roller coasters ahve to mkae up for the lack of fun by going upside down, while the "weak" ones are fun with much tamer rides)

      Engineers are tricky, those roller coasters are still plenty safe, and inspectors are not often bought. For that matter the operators know that they need to appear to be running a minimal maintance operation, but if that actucally running minimal maintance is risking death, and they cannot afford those lawsuits. (Okay, so the insurance company might force it in some cases, but the result is the same: a raide that feels unsafe while still perfectly safe)

  • by phunhippy (86447) <zavoid&gmail,com> on Monday September 16, 2002 @01:48AM (#4264064) Journal
    One brain-injury specialist interviewed said that you can exert 10 Gs just plopping into a chair, saying the state was "a little misguided"

    Woah Woah... into a chair? Thats crazy!! i've got the most comfy overstuffed lounge chair and I can tell ya the "specialist" has it all wrong.. its getting out of the chair!!! that exerts gforce!! i probably push against 100g's to get out of oh so comfy chair!!

  • First Greece, now New Jersey...

    Well, at least you can still game with ATI video cards in New Jersey!
  • There is little data tracking brain injuries and rides, which makes it difficult to know if injuries may have been caused by something other than the rides or if a person may have unknowingly had a pre-existing medical condition, some experts say.

    Other than 'previously', what other words need the prefix 'pre'? An existing medical condition says the exact same thing as pre-existing. Can anyone think back to a time when 'pre' wasn't abused all over the place? Maybe it started with pre-heating ovens? Have previews always been called that? Have trailers ever been at the end of movie, else why are they called that?

    • If I get sick, you could say my illness is existing. It exists...hence I am sick. If I were sick prior to getting insurance plan X, it is pre-existing. Pre- in this case referring to the time period before my current insurance coverage. Yes, there's a lot of redundancy in the use of that...er..prefix, but in this case it makes an important distinction. If an insurance company said "we do not cover any existing medical conditions" they would be pretty worthless.

      Just being pedantic back at you. :)

      (But I have no idea about the trailer thing....dumb movie lingo)

  • by guttentag (313541) on Monday September 16, 2002 @02:11AM (#4264112) Journal
    New Jersey Officially Limits G-Forces on Coasters
    I know the G-Forces aren't exactly the hottest video cards out there, but that doesn't mean you should use them to protect a table top from your drink. Anyone that wasteful deserves to be regulated.
  • by N Monkey (313423) on Monday September 16, 2002 @02:24AM (#4264138)
    exert 10 Gs just plopping into a chair


    Pardon me for asking, but isn't that a bit unhygienic? :-)

    (I can't even begin to consider the agony of requiring 10Gs!)

    Simon
  • This is unfortunately wasted effort. The lawyers keep the g-forces in check. What roller coaster manufacturer will make a coaster that will kill people? It's obviously in their best interest to do plenty of research and testing on their rides to make sure people don't get harmed. The odds are also statistically insignificant -- one in 100 million riders dies? Please. I wish lawmakers would spend their time on more pressing issues, such as allocating funding to help with the thousands of people who die every year from smoking, car wrecks, and terminal illnesses.

    This kind of legislation just makes me sick. The entertainment industry will take care of itself -- noone will ride a ride that is known to hurt people!
  • Any anti-government fiend will tell you that it's just "'the Man's' way of limiting your options for having a good time" (a-la Marijuana being illegal and alcohol regulations). But this isn't one of those posts, and I'm not one of those fiends.

    Instead, I look at it this way. First of all, G-Forces are nowhere near the problem. Most rollercoaster accidents happen for one of a select few reasons:

    1. Safety Devices, like seat belts, lap rails or shoulder harnesses, fail. Only after they fail do G-Forces become a remote issue, as they could easily throw the rider from the car. More commonly, the force of 1G becomes more dangerous in this case, as it's the main one pulling you to the center of the Earth (ie falling out while inverted).

    2. Mechanical Failure. Either the car or track could be to blame here. This includes brakes as well. But then again, coasters are often designed nowadays with a few redundant systems, which all but eliminate (accidents do happen) these concerns.

    3. Human stupidity. This covers both rider and operator. Failure to heed warning signs (heart condition, pregnancy, etc.) on the rider's part contribute a great deal. Let's face it. Some people are just plain stupid. Operator failure sometimes contributes to injuries and deaths, be it lack of training on operations or just plain idiocy.

    The only possible way G-Forces could kill is if number 3 happens, and someone who is stroke (etc.) prone, has extremely weak nerves, or doesn't use safety devices properly gets on.

    John Glenn returning to space proved that even older folks can handle G-Forces in excess of 5 Gs. Age limits are enough to prevent small children, still growing and pretty much fragile, from being exposed to high Gs. And most people are intelligent enough to know that if they have a pre-existing condition, getting on might not be such a good idea. Safety and mechanical failures are either pure chance or lack of proper coaster upkeep.

    So where's the problem, New Jersey? It's not science, studies and statistics. It's just plain common sense.

    Oh, wait. What am I doing talking about New Jersey and Common Sense in the first place? We all know how toxic the place is. The people are good and hard working, but their government severely lacks any stroke to pull this kind of stunt...
  • by crucini (98210)
    This is also despite the lack of scientific evidence linking G forces to brain injury, and 320 million riders who turn out just fine every year.

    Here's a Summary Table of Key Citations [house.gov]. Congressman Markey's main page on the subject [house.gov] is also worth reading.

    As for the millions who escape unscathed, I don't think that has ever been a valid argument against safety legislation. The majority of people who use power tools without eye protection will not lose an eye; does that mean OSHA should stop requiring protective eyewear?
  • 5.6G is a lot. I hardly think there even exist a coaster with that much G-force for over a second. And while it's not up to the limits (10G in a figher plane, with specially trained and selected pilots wearing an anti-G suit), it's more than enough for what you want to send your average person through (there are people who could suffer from strokes, heart-attacks, etc...).

    Besides, 5.6G is a lot even for just the coaster. If the coaster itself weighs a ton, it would mean the rail would have to be built to deal with 5.6 ton, plus whatever extra comes from vibration, and finally, better double that, just to be on the safe side. This requires extensive testing, all the time... Modern fighter planes spend more time on the ground than in the air for exactly that reason.

    If you want more than 5.6G, you should bring your medical attest, sign the waiver, etc... It's just not something you want to send people with unknown physical condition into. And it's not just the cardiac problems. There are people with e.g. weak neck-muscles, skeletal problems, etc. This could probably be enough to trigger a whiplash, or anything else, if you are not physically fit.

    Hell, better build the coaster so that they're fun to ride, instead of simply dangerous. The feeling of free fall, the horror of feeling like you're almost going to run into that bar over your head, jerky motion like on a wood-coaster, etc... there are a lot of things you can do without putting people into danger, that will be just as exciting.

    And sinking into a chair has nothing to do with it. That is impulse, not sustained force. And while impulse is dangerous too, it's not like you can just compare their numbers without thinking. (While I can survive under water for two minutes, I can probably not survive two days on top of mount everest (even though there are a lot more oxygen at the top of mount everest).)

  • I have seen several:

    Hey stop NARCing my ride man...

    and several more:

    What a watse of my Legislators time...

    posts, but this is, in fact, great legislature.

    You see the thing of it is, is that whoever this bonehead is, he/she hasn't done any real harm. Go ahead regulate the gs in my rollercoaster, Hell, regurgitate them for all I care. This truly does not matter. The Government (aka The Man) has done YOU no harm, this time.

    For the Legislator well this is a huge plus. Most of the State could care less what they've done and as such will not hold them accountable but... overprotective, SUV on the sidewalk at 50 miles an hour chatting on her cell phone, Soccer Mom thinks you're fucking Joan Of Arc saving her little ones from the brain damage she should be doling out with sugary treats, 50 inch TVs hooked to PS2s and the incessant drone of her voice warning them against the evils of the world. You've justified her existence, you've made a positive impact on her life, you have given a legal voice to her constant nagging... You da man!

    And so we're all happier. Truly nothing has been accomplished and somebody somewhere is happy. Everyone wins.
  • My take on this.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tyler Eaves (344284) on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:33AM (#4264663)
    Okay, as a coaster enthusiast, here is my take on this.

    1. They are regulating something that has a lower per capita injury/fatality rate than garden hoses, bowling, driving, walking up stairs, and really just about anything.

    2. Given [1] this is obviously 'look good' legislation that, as usual, totally fails to see the cause of injuries.

    3. By far the biggest cause of injuries is rider error. You know, people who don't "remain seated with your hands inside the car at all times". The next biggest cause (roughly 15%) is operator error. These type of accidents usually result because the operator did something stupid (IE was walking under the track while the coaster was running.) The other major cause of accidents (almost 5%) are caused by those with preexisting conditions (asthma, heart trouble, back trouble, etc). Again, essentially rider error, as the signs warn quite clearly that those with preexisting medical conditions should not ride.

    4. Even assuming g forces are a danger (I disagree, but just for the sake of argument...), NJ is looking at it in the wrong way. Based on a large body of anecdotal evidence (I've ridden 153 coasters at 52 diffirent parks, total # of rides probably close to 5000), the only thing that ever causes discomfort are those hideous over the sholder restraints (Sometimes referred to as 'horsecollars'. These restraints let your HEAD do all the stopping under any sort of lateral acceleration. Ever since Karl Bacon of Arrow Dynamics came up with the idea in the early '70's, they have been causing headaches everywhere they are installed. Luckily, some companies are seeing the light. Schwarzkopf GMBH (one of the dominant builders of early looping rides) always used simple lapbars, and those ride like a dream. Premier Rides, maker of magnetically launched rides, has recently retrofitted almost all their rides with lapbars. Those have now gone from a boxing simulator to being world class rides.
  • by sirinek (41507)
    This from a state that wont even let you pump your own fucking gas. Hardly surprising. What is it with NJ? Is it all the toxic waste screwing with their brains?

    siri
  • by The Ape With No Name (213531) on Monday September 16, 2002 @07:04AM (#4264745) Homepage
    "This is also despite the lack of scientific evidence linking G forces to brain injury, and 320 million riders who turn out just fine every year"


    Otherwise known as the Philip Morris argument.

  • "One brain-injury specialist interviewed said that ... the state was "a little misguided."

    Let me get this straight: you're saying that a bunch of congressmen are making laws regulating something they didn't really understand? That's absurd!

    Stop them before the try to regulate computers or the internet!....oh, wait....
  • This should make for an interesting recliner ritual.

    Come home, grab a beer, and annouce "Watch out! I'm coming in for re-entry!"

  • Looks like Donald Trump can kiss that Atlantic City Spaceport goodbye....
  • You're talking about a state where you aren't allowed to PUMP YOUR OWN GAS. No such thing as self serve in NJ. Personally I think NJ politicians have a dartboard with a bunch of random to create new legislation.
    • This is OT, but why the heck is there no self-serve in NJ? Is this is safety issue or a "jobs" issue? Where did this insane law come from, and why hasn't it been overturned by reasonable human beings?
  • NJ gave itself the right to regulate rides after an accident where two were killed from a malfunction, not excessive Gs.

    States have always had the right to regulate amusement park rides. Some do it much better than others. For instance, when I was growing up, shady carnivals would come to Maryland, be shut down, and then set up shop in neighboring Pennsylvania. Why? Because Pennsylvania was particularly lax at enforcing safety regulations for such rides. One such carnival had rides that were bolted together with no lockwashers, cotter pins, or other retaining devices -- despite the fact that the bolts were all cross-drilled for cotter pins. Maryland shut them down and off to Pennsylvania they headed.

    Why don't we cut the government-is-the-enemy crap? A state saw a trend towards higher and higher coaster G-forces and put regulations into place to protect the citizens -- most of whom are neither doctors nor mechanical engineers and, thus, would be unable to accurately gauge the potential risk themselves.
  • You can still get the shit scared out of you with less g forces. Last time I checked the old wooden roller coasters still got my heart pumping without breakin my friggin neck like some of the new ones where you strap in tighter than a monkey being shot into space.

EARTH smog | bricks AIR -- mud -- FIRE soda water | tequila WATER

Working...