Viewpoint

Regulate zip lines

From an editorial Monday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:

Zip lines, the fun and, yes, exciting devices that allow people to soar through treetops at fairly high speed are common now at camps and amusement venues. And some people foolishly rig them up on their own property.

Though it’s true accidents are rare, the death of a 12-year-old girl at Camp Cheerio in the Blue Ridge Mountains last month has prompted one North Carolina lawmaker to introduce a bill to study whether the zip line industry should be regulated as some amusement rides are. It currently is exempt. At least nine states regulate commercial zip lines.

Rep. Ted Davis Jr., a Wilmington Republican and a cousin of the child who died, has done the right thing here.

Davis’ reaction is common-sense and productive, and his fellow lawmakers should support him unanimously.

What harm would it do to regulate these devices? The answer is, none.

Zip lines have been around roughly 20 years. There’s no question that they’re fun and that camp directors think they’re of value because they give kids a view of nature, in the treetops. And most, like the line at Camp Cherrio, are regularly inspected by zip line installers as an insurance requirment.

The problem is that when a popular adventure takes hold, there are those people who want to bring it home and set up their own devices. This tragedy should prompt all of those who have set up their own zip lines to have someone in the industry look them over. And that, in fact, should be part of any regulation the state decides to require.

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