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CPSC moving toward temporary reprieve for youth-designed ATVs, motorcycles

Dealers hoping to once again sell youth-designed ATVs and motorcycles in the crucial spring and summer selling seasons received some positive news today from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The federal government agency said it intends to take steps to provide a temporary stay for youth ATVs and motorcycles that have been banned as a result of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), moving to get them back on showroom floors.

But how soon dealers will be able to sell children-designed vehicles that do not meet the lead standards of the CPSIA is still a question.

CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord, in concert with CPSC’s other commissioner, is directing the federal agency’s staff to create a vote to allow a stay for such vehicles that were manufactured both before Feb. 10 and up to May 1, 2011. The stay would extend to replacement parts for the vehicles, provided those parts do not have a higher lead content than the originally installed parts.

The vote, which would be taken by the two CPSC commissioners, is expected to occur in the next week.

However, Joe Martyak, acting director of Public Affairs for the CPSC, noted the CPSC chairman’s statement, announced today, immediately sends a message to the federal agency’s staff not to enforce any penalty against selling youth-designed ATVs and motorcycles.

“The provision is still there and if they (dealers) sell one and it’s over the lead law, yes, it’s breaking the law,” he said. “But we’re saying we’re exercising enforcement discretion not to bring a penalty against them.”

However, dealers who sell such vehicles could still face penalties at the state level. Chairman Nord noted in her statement, “I hope that the state attorney’s general will follow our lead in this matter.”

But it’s up to each state attorney’s general office to determine whether they would enforce the law’s penalty or not.

The Motorcycle Industry Council issued a statement saying it was pleased with the temporary reprieve but also noted it’s not the solution the industry was seeking.

“With today's vote, it is now obvious that the only permanent solution is for Congress to end the ban once and for all by amending the CPSIA so parents once again have access to appropriate-sized youth model ATVs and motorcycles for their children,” said Paul Vitrano, general counsel for the MIC.    

Nord has previously stated that she doesn’t believe children-designed ATVs and motorcycles should be permanently exempted from the CPSIA because “the clear language of the law requires this result, not because it advances consumer safety.”

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