Consumer Product Safety Commission Hearing Urged to Deny Petition to Ban Sale of Adult-Sized ATVs for Use by Children Under 16

BETHESDA, Md.--March 22, 2005--

Witnesses Testify that Parental Supervision, Education and State Legislation Key to Improving ATV Safety



Representatives from the corporate, civic, nonprofit and other sectors -- including the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA), the ATV Safety Institute (ASI), ATV dealerships, the Pennsylvania Off-Highway Association (PaOHV), a Trail Search and Rescue (TSAR) member, and a law enforcement officer, among others -- testified at a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) hearing today in support of the CPSC staff recommendation to deny the petition to ban the sale of adult-sized ATVs for use by children under 16, calling the proposed petition "unnecessary" and "ineffective."

The CPSC staff's briefing package, issued on February 4, 2005, recommended that the Commission deny the petition, explaining, "The CPSC lacks the ability to regulate or enforce how consumers use products after purchase. While the Commission can effect to some degree how ATVs are sold, it cannot control the behavior of consumers or prevent adults from allowing children to ride adult-sized ATVs."

SVIA President Tim Buche expressed support for the staff's recommendation saying, "Similar to the three field hearings held by CPSC on ATV safety in West Virginia, New Mexico and Alaska, the overwhelming majority of witnesses today advocated 'real world' solutions to strengthen ATV safety over the proposed petition, recommending rider education and training, along with parental supervision and state legislation."

Many witnesses agreed with the CPSC staff's conclusion that the issue of children under the age of 16 riding adult sized ATVs is at point-of-use, not at point-of-sale. Dealers of ATVs, in particular, also stressed the importance of complying with ATV manufacturers' prohibition of knowingly selling adult-sized ATVs for use by children under 16, promoting the hands-on training course, strongly recommending the use of helmets and other protective gear, and being involved in organized rider clubs and OHV trails.

Greg Keoho, the General Manager of Criswell Powersports in Germantown, Md. (an OHV dealership) told the Commission, "Although a federal sales ban may sound good in principle, the fact is that once an ATV is purchased by an adult and leaves our showroom, we cannot control who is later allowed to use the vehicle...that is why parents and adult guardians have to be involved when their children operate any size ATV."

"It is unrealistic to think that a federal ban that applies to dealers is going to make a difference in the real world where ATVs are purchased and used. Children under 16 do not buy adult-sized ATVs. Adults do," said, John Ross, the owner of Shenandoah Honda in Winchester, Va.

Kathy van Kleeck, SVIA's Vice President of Government Relations said that the most effective way to reduce children's injuries is through enforcement of current ATV safety laws and the enactment of ATV safety laws in those states that do not currently have them. She described SVIA's model state legislation (see below) and described the progress made in two states where CPSC previously held hearings: West Virginia and New Mexico. The West Virginia legislature passed the states' first ATV safety law and New Mexico's legislature last week passed new ATV safety legislation.

Buche concluded, "The industry will continue to promote state legislation that enforces ATV safety, addresses vehicle misuse present in 92% of ATV fatalities, and restricts the operation of adult-sized ATVs to persons aged 16 and older. We will also continue to advise parents and guardians to make sure their children don't ride adult-sized ATVs, and to supervise children under 16 at all times when they ride the smaller youth-model ATVs designed for them. Finally, we strongly encourage the Consumer Federation of America, ATV user groups, retail dealerships, and all others interested in promoting ATV safety to join us in working to effect changes to further reduce the number of accidents resulting from misuse of the product."

Following are the primary components of the industry's Model ATV Safety Legislation:

    1. Requires protective gear: All ATV riders are required to wear
       eye protection and an approved safety helmet.
    
    2. Prohibits passengers: The carrying of passengers is not allowed
       in any circumstance.
    
    3. Codifies operator age restrictions: No one under age 16 may
       operate an adult-sized ATV (engine capacity greater than 90cc) 
       on public land. Youth-size ATVs (engine capacity 70cc up to and
       including 90cc) may be operated on public land only by those 
       aged 12 and older.
    
    4. Requires adult supervision: Persons under age 16 must be under
       continuous adult supervision while operating an ATV on public 
       land.
    
    5. Promotes education: States must implement a comprehensive ATV
       safety education and training program, which provides for the 
       hands-on training of ATV operators.
     
    6. Establishes safety certification: All persons operating an ATV
       on public land must have a safety certificate.
    
    7. Prohibits ATV operation on public roads.

There are approximately 20 states with comprehensive ATV legislation and approximately 20 with minimal ATV legislation. The industry will continue to focus on those states that have inadequate or no ATV safety legislation.

About SVIA

Since 1983, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America(R) (SVIA) has promoted the safe and responsible use of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) through rider training programs, public awareness campaigns, and state legislation. SVIA also serves as a resource for ATV research, statistics, and vehicle standards. SVIA, based in Irvine, California, is a not-for-profit trade association sponsored by AlphaSports, Arctic Cat, Bombardier, Bush Hog, Honda, John Deere, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. For membership information, call (949) 727-3727; for safety information or to enroll in an ATV RiderCourse(SM), call (800) 887-2887 or visit www.atvsafety.org.

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