On June 14, 2018 a roller coaster on the Daytona Beach boardwalk in Florida derailed and left 10 frantic riders dangling of the tracks 30 feet in the air. According to the Daytona Beach News Journal, the ride had been inspected last year and was out of operation due to over a dozen safety violations. It has not confirmed whether it was faulty maintenance that caused the accident. This being said, when the riders headed to the boardwalk and loaded onto the coaster, derailment was not one of the assumed risks that they were taking.
Unfortunately, some sort of mistake, whether it was a mechanical error, maintenance neglect, or whatever the case was, caused this accident. The victims of roller coaster derailment accidents will most likely have serious injuries, loads of medical bills, and trauma. What was supposed to be a great time at the boardwalk with friends, turned into a very scary time for these riders and their friends and families. Roller coaster safety is now being especially considered as these fun, scary rides are now becoming just scary.
How it Happens
Roller coasters wheels are railed in on three sides, so they cannot become derailed like a train would. Instead, a few different things would need to occur for derailment to happen.
One, if the aligners on the track were not lined up with each other. For example, if one aligner was in the center of the track, and the next aligner was shifted to the right. Second, a piece of the rail could bend or break off, causing a gap in rail. Third, bolts in the railings or in the roller coaster cart itself could break or come off completely, forcing one cart to detach and lose control. Next, a wheel could come off the cart due to a faulty axel or another part. Last, if the entire cart were to become detached from the set of wheels, it could cause derailment. Because roller coasters are moving at such high forces and speeds, any little part that becomes loose or breaks, can cause serious, deadly accidents.
How to Make Roller Coasters Safer
Statistics have shown the roller coaster injuries are on the rise, with close to 30,000 injuries last year, as opposed to only 15,000 in 2005. Roller coasters can be made safer with more state regulations on inspections, more effective surveillance and data on injuries, better engineering of rides, shorter ride lifespan, better safety training for employees and ride operators, and more warning signs of medical conditions. Currently, besides riders failing to abide by the rules, many roller coaster injuries result from maintenance neglect, worn-out or rusty rides, operator negligence, and not enough importance being put on this issue.