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HOUSTON—Traveling carnivals frequently set up shop in vacant parking lots along Houston’s highways.

They’re a magnet for kids, but they can also be dangerous.

Kelly Huff, 15, lost her life at a carnival near Victoria when she was crushed by a piece of a ride that came loose in January of 2008.

“She was inside and out beautiful,” Huff’s cousin, Chrystal Marshell, said. “[It’s] something like that should never happen to anyone.”

But as it turns out, accidents involving carnival rides happen more often than one might think.

According to injury reports from the Texas Department of Insurance, the state agency that regulates the amusement-ride industry, about 150 people a year have been hurt by the rides since 2005.

Attorney Vuk Vujasinovic, who represents some of those victims, said there needs to be a uniform system of regulation.

“When you don’t have a federal regulatory system, there are no uniform standards across the board,” he said.

Texas does require carnival operators to obtain liability insurance and a TDI sticker – proof of an annual inspection – on each ride.

Those stickers should have the current year on them, like car inspection stickers.

But while they’re supposed to be kept in plain view, 11 News had a tough time spotting the stickers with our hidden camera at a carnival on the Eastex Freeway.

When we returned moments later and asked to see the stickers, carnival worker Walley Enright was anxious to prove that the rides were safe and in compliance with state law.

“I always inspect them and make sure that they’re running,” Enright said.

But to parents worried about the safety of their kids, perhaps no law – no matter how strictly enforced – can completely eliminate the fear that something might go wrong.

“Very concerned. You hear so many stories about so many accidents,” parent Tiffany Molina said.

Accidents just like the one that killed Huff, on a ride that was nearly two years overdue for inspection.

“That’s being careless and thoughtless and not even thinking about consequences,” Marshell said. “People think of a carnival as a happy place, a place where you want to go and have fun. But not for me. I won’t go to them anymore.”