All terrain vehicles—or ATVs—continue to take lives, particularly young lives.
But in a small step in the right direction, ATVs will be subject to some additional safety standards in the future, and three-wheel ATVs are now banned altogether, due to some new mandatory requirements in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).
The ATV provisions of the CPSIA require that any new ATV sold in the U.S. be subject to an action plan—a written protocol that prescribes steps the ATV maker or seller must take to ensure ATV safety, such as rider training, distribution of safety information, and appropriate age recommendations. Future ATV action plans must be approved by the CPSC, and each new ATV offered for sale must bear a label certifying its compliance with the applicable action plan.
Additionally, new three-wheeled ATVs may no longer be sold or imported into the U.S. until the CPSC creates and implements a safety standard for them. The CPSIA also requires the Government Accountability Office to study the costs of injuries and accidents associated with ATV use.
The three-wheel ban has already gone into effect. The rest of the ATV provisions will go into effect April 13, 2009. Further, the new law gives the CPSC the power to modify the safety standard if the agency determines that it's inadequate.
But while these steps are heartening, much more is needed to make sure consumers are properly protected when it comes to these all-too-deadly products.
Rachel Weintraub, Director of Product Safety for Consumer Federation of America, says that part of the problem is the lack of mandatory safety standards for ATVs.
The numbers speak for themselves. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says it is aware of at least 8,995 deaths associated with ATVs between 1982 and 2007. In recent years, the number of fatalities has typically exceeded 750 per year, with a significant percentage being deaths of children under 16. Think about that—more than two ATV-related deaths every day."Congress, the CPSC, state legislatures, the ATV industry, and the consumer and health care community still have miles to go before we adequately reduce the hazards caused by ATVs," says Weintraub. "The CPSC data show that the hazards posed by ATVs continue unabated. Children should not be riding adult-sized ATVs. ATVs must be designed to eliminate hazards and enforcement must be effective at both the federal and state level."