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ATV – CPSC Feels Pressure for Decision

A decision from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on a petition that requests a ban on full-size ATV sales to children under 16 years old is expected to move forward in the next few months.
After several hearings and a comment period on the petition, a decision has been on hold awaiting the appointment of a new CPSC commissioner. The three-panel committee that will make the decision has been short one member. Federal law allows the commission to make decisions with two commissioners for only six months after a post is vacated. The six month deadline passed in April. Since then, to make rulings the committee needed all three commissioners in place.
In February President Bush nominated former Eastman Kodak lobbyist Nancy Nord to fill the post. Nord also has served as the head of the Republican National Lawyers Association. Congress recently confirmed her nomination, and she will begin working on the commission. She could be the deciding vote in the request to ban full-size ATV sales to chidlren under 16 years old.
According to published reports, the two commission members are split on whether to ban the sale. Commision Chairman Hal Stratton opposes the ban, while Commissioner Thomas Moore supports it, according to reports.
While it’s unclear how Nord will vote or when a decision will be made, it could happen by this fall and it could land in favor of the CPSC staff recommendation.
“The commission traditionally follows the recommendation of the [CPSC] staff,” said CPSC staff member Scott Wolfson.
While it could take some time before a ruling is made, Wolfson said there is some urgency to get the issue resolved.
“There’s a desire from the commission to make a decision,” he said.
Earlier this year, the CPSC staff recommended that the petition, filed by the Bluewater Network, Consumer Federation of America and the Natural Trails and Waters Coalition, be denied citing that the “CPSC lacks the ability to regulate or enforce how consumers use products after purchase.”
The staff also said, “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.”
At a public meeting a month later, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) agreed with the CPSC staff recommendation. SVIA also said it agrees that the issue of children under 16 riding an adult-size ATV is at the pointof use, not the point of purchase.
Both organizations believe that rider training is essential for safe riding.
“We want to help promote safety courses,” Wolfson said. “We’ve got dealers giving out $100 to take safety courses and that's a positive.”
SVIA representatives have stated that they believe the best means to reduce ATV related injuries involves rider training, parental supervision and appropriate state safety legislation.

As previously reported in Powersports Business, the SVIA has a “model state legislation” in place, which has served as the basis for many states with comprehensive ATV safety laws.
At the public meeting, the SVIA used legislation passed by the New Mexico legislature as an example of state ATV safety measures that should be enacted. The safety measures in the bill are part of a larger overall off-highway bill establishing guidelines and laws in New Mexico. The original bill required all riders to wear protective gear, prohibited passengers on ATVs, required adult supervision for children under 16, promoted education, established safety certification, prohibited riding on public roads and established age restrictions.
However, before New Mexico Gov. Richardson signed the bill, some changes were made to it. Many of the requirements outlined in the original bill that passed the Senate remain in the act signed by the governor. The biggest changes to the bill are age requirements. The new bill states that helmets and eye protection are required for riders under 18 years old. In addition, those under 18 years old must have an off-road motor vehicle safety permit obtained through an approved safety course in order to ride ATVs.
The law also requires that ATV riders under 18 be supervised by adults unless they are at least 13 with a motorcycle license or at least 15 with a driver's license, instructional permit or provisional driver’s license. Riders under 10 will be restricted to “appropriately sized ATVs” and must be supervised by a parent, guardian or safety course instructor. The new laws will take effect Jan. 1, 2006.

— Eric Skogman

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