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New Task Group on Bumper Boats Prepares First Standard

A midsummer day’s visit to an amusement or water park usually isn’t complete for most kids until they have gotten a chance to ride the bumper boats. While bumper boats are among the safest rides in the amusement industry, a new task group on bumper boat safety, under the jurisdiction of ASTM Subcommittee F24.60 on Special Rides/Attractions, has been formed to develop standards that will further ensure the safety of these popular rides.

According to Leon Wilbanks, general manager, J&J Amusements, and leader of the new task group, the popularity of bumper boat rides has grown steadily over the years. “It is a very slow and safe ride and enjoys one of the best safety records among amusement rides,” Wilbanks says.

The new bumper boat task group met for the first time and included representatives of the major manufacturers, as well as ride operators from five different facilities. The task group has written a rough draft for a proposed standard, tentatively titled Practice for the Classification, Design, Manufacture and Operation of Concession Bumper Boats and Facilities. Wilbanks says they hope to have the draft ready for ballot after the next meeting in October. The task group is actively seeking participation in developing this standard.

One of the issues addressed in the new standard will be the safety of bumper boat propellers. A 1994 accident in South Carolina resulted in the only known fatality involving a bumper boat when the victim’s shirt became entangled in the bumper boat propeller. This prompted South Carolina state inspectors to institute a “wet T-shirt test” to determine if a bumper boat’s propeller was safe. This test has been used in other states, but it is not universal. Wilbanks hopes that the new task group can devise other tests to determine propeller safety.

For further technical information, contact Leon Wilbanks, J&J Amusements, Salem, Ore. (phone: 503/304-8899). Committee F24 on Amusement Rides and Devices will meet Oct. 1-3 in San Diego, Calif. For meeting or membership details, contact Len Morrissey, ASTM International (phone: 610/832-9719). //

Copyright 2004, ASTM International