Is New Jersey the safest state in which to board a roller coaster or merry-go-round?

Debbie Karu, amusement park manager at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, has been to other states and witnessed their efforts to maintain and inspect rides. And they're no match for New Jersey's rigorous process, in her opinion.

By the time all 27 rides are ready for passengers on Memorial Day weekend, each will have gone through a number of inspections to ensure their safety.

Some rides are already up and running and have had their full checkup by both pier workers and the state.

"Our ride inspections are determined by the manufacturer of rides," Karu told New Jersey 101.5.

Once winter maintenance is through and a pier team has made sure everything is in order with the ride's functionality, each ride gets a double check from the state.

According to the state Department of Community Affairs spokeswoman Tammori Petty, the department's Carnival and Amusement Safety Unit inspects every ride in the state at the beginning of the season, prior to operation. That goes for "portable rides that are used at traveling shows" as well.

"This inspection includes a thorough visual inspection of the ride that includes an examination of all welds and fasteners, an examination of moving parts for wear, an examination of the clearances around the ride, and an examination of the ride while it is running without passengers on it to make sure it is operating properly," Petty said in an emailed statement. "Finally, we perform operational inspections.  These are inspections while the ride is being used by the public."

And care for the rides doesn't stop there. Each day on Casino Pier, and any other spot in the state featuring rides, a maintenance and operational inspection is performed before riders can jump on and enjoy themselves.

Wave Swinger
Wave Swinger (Casino Pier)

"New Jersey is the safest state to ride rides if you ask me," Karu said.

According to Petty, an exception in the rules allows the operators of rides at traveling fairs and carnivals to operate under the prior year's permit, given there are no outstanding violations and a complete application has been submitted for the upcoming season. But that provision is "a last resort and the vast majority of mechanical rides are inspected prior to use even for traveling shows."

No major problems with rides were detected following the off-season at Casino Pier, according to Karu. Many are taken from the boards to an off-site facility as to not suffer unnecessary damage from the winter cold and ocean air. Most rides are trailer-mounted.

"If you come to Casino Pier in the wintertime and you see it's kind of empty, that's exactly why — because we pull most of the rides off," Karu said.

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