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Do the laws in the Carolinas really cover all amusement rides?

With the weather so beautiful and the days so long at this time of the year, both adults and kids alike are maximizing their time outdoors. While this typically means more mundane activities like taking a walk, having dinner on the patio or napping in a hammock for the former, it typically means much more exciting activities like playing organized sports, traveling to the beach, and going to camps or amusement parks for the latter.

As it turns out, adults whose children will be going to these camps or amusement parks this summer should be aware that officials in the Carolinas are now considering whether perhaps more needs to be done concerning the regulation of ziplines and pendulum swings -- popular features at these venues -- following the wrongful deaths of two young people. 

What happened in these two accidents?

Back on June 11, a 12-year-old-girl was killed when she fell from an elevated zipline at a summer camp for kids in Alleghany County, North Carolina. A little over a month later, a 16-year-old girl was killed when she fell from a pendulum swing at a summer camp for kids in Pickens County, South Carolina.

Both accidents remain under investigation.

What exactly are ziplines and pendulum swings?

A zipline is comprised of a series of steel cables attached to towers, trees or other elevated structures. Riders, who are outfitted with harnesses, can glide over these steel cables, creating the sensation of flying. While some ziplines require riders to stop themselves, others are outfitted with braking systems.

A pendulum swing, like the one involved in the aforementioned accident, typically seats several riders who are secured via restraint systems. It sends riders through the air from one side to another at great elevations. By way of reference, consider the motion of a tire swing.

What are the current laws/regulations governing these devices in the Carolinas?

Somewhat surprisingly, neither state has any laws or regulations governing ziplines, pendulum swings or even ropes courses.

In fact, the closest South Carolina's Office of Elevators and Amusement Rides comes to inspecting and issuing permits for these types of attractions are the few ziplines located in and around Myrtle Beach. However, this is only because these ziplines can be classified as amusement rides due to the presence of mechanical stopping mechanisms.

Are lawmakers poised to do anything in light of these recent tragedies?  

North Carolina lawmakers recently passed House Bill 39, which calls for those caught illegally operating amusement rides to face enhanced criminal penalties and, more significantly, calls for the state's Department of Labor to conduct a comprehensive six-month study on ziplines.

While state officials are discussing the matter, there is currently no legislation pending in South Carolina.  

Here's hoping that state lawmakers not just here in the Carolinas, but across the nation start to take the necessary actions concerning this important safety issue. Stay tuned for updates.

If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another, remember that your family can seek justice for the unimaginable harm you've endured. 

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