The world’s fastest-accelerating roller coaster has come to a screeching halt after several riders sustained broken bones while on the ride, Vice World News reports.
Located in Japan’s Fuji-Q Highland Park, Do-Dodonpa, a roller coaster that can reach “super death” speed by going from zero to 112 miles per hour in 1.56 seconds, has been suspended after injuring as many as four people since December 2020. Newsweek notes the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported “four people have broken bones,” while Vice World News cites a park spokesperson who said there are “at least six” riders with bone fractures, four of which were to their neck or back.
Mainichi Shimbun further specified that the injuries happened to people “in their 30s to 50s,” and any neck or back injury would require between one to three months for a full recovery.
Naoya Miyasato, architecture professor at Nihon University, believes the issue could lie with the roller coaster’s literal breakneck acceleration, which is comparable to what astronauts experience during a rocket launch. “If a rider can’t withstand the acceleration, then they sustain injury, which could be what’s happening here,” Miyasato said, per Vice.
Despite launching two decades ago, injuries on Do-Dodonpa are a recent occurrence. Even after slightly increasing the ride’s top speed in 2017, no serious injuries were reported until December.
Since no technical issues were reported in the park’s initial investigation, Miyasato suspects the injuries could be linked to how the riders are 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,” he wondered.