AMA/ATVA Challenge Attacks on All-Terrain Vehicles
August 22, 2002
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Groups that are attacking the safety record of all-terrain
vehicles are ignoring vital data concerning these popular off-highway vehicles,
reports the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and All-Terrain Vehicle
Association (ATVA). And in doing so, ATV critics have tried to make an improving
safety record look like just the opposite.
A coalition of groups made up of the Consumer Federation of America, the Natural
Trails and Waters Coalition, the Bluewater Network and others has called for
tighter federal and state regulation of ATVs, including a total ban on all ATV
use by riders under the age of 16, saying that there has been a "hidden
epidemic" of ATV-related injuries. But in fact, the numbers cited by the groups
actually show that ATV use is getting safer.
In a press conference and orchestrated media campaign, the anti-ATV groups
charged that between 1993 and 2001, the number of injuries related to ATV use
more than doubled. But the group failed to note that during that same period,
the number of ATVs in use in the United States nearly tripled, to about 7
million today. That means an individual ATV operator was actually much less
likely to be injured in 2001.
"These groups are conveniently ignoring the remarkable growth in ATV sales in
recent years," said ATVA Director Doug Morris. "Simply put, there's been a
tremendous increase in the number of people riding ATVs, and on a per-rider
basis, the sport is much safer today than it was a decade or more ago."
Morris noted that in 1988, the ATV industry entered into a consent decree with
the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that the federal agency said
would result in "far-reaching and comprehensive relief designed to reduce the
risk of injury associated with ATV usage." That agreement included an end to the
sale of three-wheeled ATVs, age restrictions for those operating ATVs, safety
information on the vehicle as well as in the owner's manual and an ATV safety
public awareness campaign. Most importantly, though, it resulted in the creation
of a nationwide rider-training program available free of charge to all new ATV
buyers. And even though the consent decree expired in 1998, ATV manufacturers
voluntarily continue to follow the agreement.
In calling for the nationwide ban on ATV use by those under the age of 16, the
anti-ATV groups charged that this sweeping measure is necessary because of
problems that result when children attempt to handle larger, more powerful ATVs.
But Morris pointed out that under the longstanding agreement between the ATV
industry and the federal agency, only the smallest ATVs--those with engines
displacing 90cc or less--have been sold for use by riders in that age group.
In addition, Morris questioned the motivation behind some of the groups involved
in this attack on ATVs. He noted that the Natural Trails and Waters Coalition
and the Bluewater Network have never had any involvement with or interest in ATV
safety. Instead, their agenda is to block access to public lands for ATV riders
and others involved in motorized recreation.
"Including these anti-access organizations in this coalition makes for an odd
alliance at the very least," said Morris, "since the interests of two of the
coalition partners are in eliminating ATVs, not making them safer."
Morris noted that the AMA, the ATVA and other motorized-recreation groups will
continue to support the ATV industry's ongoing efforts to make ATV riding safer.
"The ATVA is a strong supporter of riders getting training, wearing proper
riding gear and obeying all laws as part of a comprehensive safety effort,"
Morris said. "The ATVA also very strongly supports close adult supervision of
children riding proper-sized ATVs. I invite groups concerned about ATV safety to
work with the ATVA to take steps that improve safety."