Do-Dodonpa in Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park, Japan – otherwise known as the world’s fastest roller coaster by the metric of acceleration alone – has been suspended after several riders walked away from the attraction with broken bones.
The Mainichi reports the showstopping incident in question involved a total of four people between the ages of 30 and 50, all of whom suffered damage to their neck and back, with full recovery times ranging from a single month to three months. Prior to this, two others copped nasty fractures of a similar nature, indicating something of a pattern. The investigation, however, has found zero issues and abnormalities with the park’s machinery itself thus far.
“If a rider can’t withstand the acceleration, then they sustain an injury, which could be what’s happening here,” explains Naoya Miyasato, Nihon University professor of architecture (who actually specialises in roller coaster designs).
“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.”
How fast is fast? Constructed near the base of Mount Fuji back in 2001, over the years, Do-Dodonpa has undergone design tweaks to earn the title of world’s fastest roller coaster. From the modification of 2017 to the time of its benching by the Yamanashi Prefectural Government, Do-Dodonpa roller coaster clocked a literal breakneck acceleration speed of 180 km/h in just 1.56 seconds, over a distance of 69 metres from the starting point. The entire structure stands 49 metres above ground with a loop diameter of 39.7 metres – which also makes it among the world’s largest structures of its kind.
According to the Global Association of the Attractions Industry (IAAPA), there’s a one in 15.5 million probability of being seriously injured from a roller coaster ride. So either those injured punters weren’t paying attention during the safety briefing, or they’re just really, really, really unlucky.