A closer look at amusement ride safety

It takes a lot of preparation to set up rides at a county fair, and Union County Illinois Fair Board member Walter Jackson is looking over the work before Friday’s opening night.

"We’re going to show everybody a good time this year," Jackson told Local 6.

He expects more than 20,000 guests including his own grandchildren.  "I wouldn’t think I would put them on any ride that I didn’t think was safe," he said. 

Illinois state law requires all rides be inspected every year.  Follow-up inspections are unannounced.

"Our state inspectors have been here, and everything is up and ready to go," he said. 

The Illinois Department of Labor told us it "issues permits to operate only after an inspection determines the ride or attraction meets safety requirements."

With recent safety concerns at other fairs, Jackson said safety is not only his priority, but it should also be for parents. "That is something on a lot of people’s mind," Jackson said. 

For now, he’s making sure the rides are safe, knowing parents might be hesitant to let their kids on them.

"Things happen, and sometimes we don’t have the control we should have," he said. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission oversees the manufacturing of amusement rides, but there is no federal oversight on ride safety. Inspection guidelines vary by state. 

In Kentucky and Missouri, rides must be inspected every year. In Tennessee, rides must be inspected every six months.

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