"The CPSC has no employee whose full-time job is to ensure the safety of such rides. The agency's 90 field investigators - who oversee 15,000 products, work from their homes and live mostly on the East Coast - are so overstretched that they frequently arrive at carnival accident scenes after rides have been dismantled.
"As a result, critics say, supermarket shopping carts feature a more standardized child-restraint system than do amusement rides, which can travel as fast as 100 mph and, according to federal estimates, cause an average of four deaths and thousands of injuries every year.
"State regulators and ride safety advocates say that this record is emblematic of wider problems at the CPSC, whose lagging efforts to keep unsafe toys and other children's products from the marketplace have created a public outcry and have brought intense congressional scrutiny. Rulemaking by the agency has decreased during the Bush administration, and its officials say that budget and staffing constraints have made the commission vulnerable to industry pressure to adopt voluntary standards, or, in the case of fixed-site amusement park rides, no federal regulation."