The world’s fastest roller coaster, the Do-Dodonpa in Japan’s Fuji-Q Highland Park has been suspended after riders complained about broken backs and broken necks. The fast-accelerating roller coaster that reached from 0 to 112mph in 1.56 seconds has been closed till further notice after the incidents were reported to the authorities on August 17.
In December 2020, the first rider, a woman in her thirties, reported an injury and the staff checked the machinery. They found no problem and the incident was treated as an aberration. However, by August 12, more riders of the rollercoaster reported injuries. The park closed the ride on August 12 for inspection and informed Japanese authorities on August 17 who immediately suspended the ride.
Fuji-Q Highland Park officials were confounded by the injuries as no one had been injured on a ride before December 2020. The roller coaster ride had first opened for riders’ way back in 2001. In 2017, it was modified to reach a new speed of 112 mph from its earlier 106 mph.
The “super death speed” Do-Dodonpa is located at the foot of Mount Fuji. It reaches a height of 161 feet at its peak. It has one of the largest loops in the world, with a diameter of 131 feet.
At least six riders have suffered injuries and four of them have broken necks or backs. The Mainichi, a Japanese newspaper, reported that four people who were in their thirties to fifties broke neck and back bones and required a long period to recover.
In 2019, Safety Science, an international journal for human and industrial safety technology, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), reported than the chances of suffering serious injuries on a fixed-site ride in America stood at 1 in 17 million. It also stated that most injuries were a result of rider behavior and misconduct and not malfunctioning machinery.
Naoya Miyasato, an architecture professor who studies roller coaster designs and accidents told VICE World News that accidents that cause broken backs were unheard of and if a rider couldn’t withstand acceleration, they could sustain injuries. Injuries could also be a result of sitting incorrectly and park employees should check seating positions.