Representatives of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) testified recently at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) public meeting in Bethesda, Md. Testimony concerned a petition which requests a ban on selling ATVs for use by children under 16 years old.
SVIA, based in Irvine, Calif., is a not-for-profit trade association sponsored by AlphaSports, Arctic Cat, Bombardier, Honda, John Deere, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.
SVIA agreed with a previous CPSC staff recommendation that the petition should be denied. On Feb. 4, CPSC staff announced: “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 concurs with CPSC staff that the issue of children under 16 riding adult-sized ATVs is at point of use, not at point of sale.
SVIA says its research shows more than 92% of all ATV fatalities involve one or more user behaviors that are strongly and visibly “warned against” by the industry in dealerships, in product literature, in public awareness messages, through rider training, and on the vehicle itself. These risky and irresponsible behaviors include children riding adult-sized ATVs, riding without a helmet, riding with a passenger, riding on public roads, and riding at excessive speed. Furthermore, regarding crashes involving children, the SVIA says an overwhelming number of injuries are the result of children under 16 riding adult-sized ATVs.
SVIA representatives said they believe a three-pronged approach including rider training, parental supervision, and appropriate state safety legislation is the best means to reduce ATV related injuries.
MODEL STATE LEGISLATION
SVIA’s model state legislation, which has served as the basis for many states with comprehensive ATV safety laws, not only advocates safety provisions that codify mandatory helmet use, but also advocates adult supervision, the prohibition of passengers, and the prohibition of children under 16 riding adult-sized ATVs, among other safety provisions.
One example of state ATV safety legislation cited at the meeting was a comprehensive ATV safety bill passed by the New Mexico legislature on March 17. SVIA and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dede Feldman, have been advocating passage of the legislation for the past two legislative sessions.
The bill, which awaits Gov. Richardson’s signature, includes the seven fundamental points of the SVIA’s model 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 (larger than 90cc) on public land. Youth-sized ATVs (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.
SVIA representatives also participated in previous CPSC field hearings in New Mexico, West Virginia and Alaska — where most of the witnesses advocated education, state legislation with enforcement, and adult supervision as the keys to improving ATV safety.
Vehicle manufacturers interested in SVIA membership information should call 949/727-3727.