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New standards for fair ride safety

Families eager to get back out to the first full fairs and festivals season since 2019 should have safer options after the passage of Tyler’s Law, which went into effect last November. Named, for Tyler Jarrell, who died after being thrown from a ride at the Ohio State Fair in 2017, the law is meant to increase amusement ride safety and improve the inspection process.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of Ohioans,” said ODA Director Dorothy Pelanda last week, as she highlighted the safety changes. “At the Ohio Department of Agriculture, our duties don’t just include safe and wholesome food, meat, milk and the protection of Ohio’s livestock, crops and plants; they also extend into the safety of Ohio’s amusement rides.”

Adopting new American Society for Testing and Materials standards, the idea is to ensure all rides meet at least the minimum requirements for inspection and testing, and establish the minimum number of times rides must be inspected each year.

“Ohio is setting the standard for amusement rides rules and regulations,” said ODA Chief of Amusement Rides and Safety David Miran. “These rules have ride owners keeping strict records for each piece of equipment they own, while also ensuring each ride receives a thorough inspection, giving everyone, from the owners to the riders, a safer experience.”

That is good news, though it is still mind boggling such standards were not in place before. Meanwhile, parents can have some assurance there are improved efforts to keep rides safe, but should not abandon their own judgment when deciding whether to put kids on a ride.

Give the ride a once over. Take a look at whether the attendant seems to be paying attention to the workings of the ride. Trust your gut. If something seems off, move on. With improved safety measures and a little common sense, this fairs and festivals season should be just the fun we’ve all been missing.

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