World’s Fastest Rollercoaster Shut Down After Riders Keep Breaking Their Bones
Japan’s Do-Dodonpa is known to be the fastest rollercoaster on the planet, capable of achieving top speeds of 172km/h (106.9mph) in just 1.8 seconds.
For years, thrill-seekers have flocked to Fuji-Q Highland Park to give the notorious ride a go, an experience which regularly ranks on lists of the scariest, most intense the world’s theme parks have to offer.
However, Do-Dodonpa has now been shut to members of the public until further notice, following multiple reports of serious injuries.
Since December, at least six riders have suffered bone fractures after riding Do-Dodonpa, Vice reports, four of whom reported breaking either their neck or back.
Before this period, there hadn’t been any reports of customers breaking bones after riding Do-Dodonpa, despite the ride having been in operation for almost 20 years.
Experts have therefore been left puzzled by this sudden spike in injuries, especially given that, in 2017, the rollercoaster was purposefully modified to increase the top speed from 172km/h to 180km/h.
Initial investigations haven’t found any technical issues with Do-Dodonpa, while manufacturer Sansei Technologies has issued an apology to those injured, while stating that the cause of the injuries are unknown.
Broken bone injuries on rollercoasters are known to be very rare and, at the time of writing, the Japanese government still hasn’t found the reason for these injuries.
However, Naoya Miyasato, an Nihon University architecture professor who specialises in roller coaster designs, told Vice the injuries could be due to the ride’s rapid acceleration.
At its peak, Do-Dodonpa’s acceleration is more than three times the force of gravity, which is similar to the G-force astronauts can experience during a launch.
Miyasato said: ‘If a rider can’t withstand the acceleration, then they sustain injury, which could be what’s happening here.’
Miyasato has also suggested that the injuries could be due to the way that riders sit, saying:
If they detected no serious concerns with the actual ride, then it could be the way people were sitting. But if a person was sitting incorrectly, say with space between their backs and their seat, it’s the responsibility of the park employees to check their seating position.
One of those who sustained an injury after riding Do-Dodonpa had reportedly been sitting forward during the ride, going against requirements to lean back against the seat and to reduce the space between back and backrest as much as possible.
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