ATV Accidents Continue to RiseOct 30, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
Consumer groups are saying that the hazards from all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) continue to increase and that, for the eighth year in a row, serious injuries caused by ATVs are on the rise. Children under age 16 continuing to suffer most of those injuries, according to a report released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Worse, estimated deaths on ATVs also increased.
"Every year, more and more families are devastated by deaths and injuries caused by ATVs. This tragic problem continues to be in dire need of an aggressive and immediate solution," stated Rachel Weintraub, Director of Product Safety for Consumer Federation of America. "Congress, CPSC, state legislatures, the ATV industry, and the consumer and health care community still have miles to go before we adequately reduce the hazards caused by ATVs." American Academy of Pediatrics President David T. Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP pointed out that, "This new report shows more of the same—continued high death and injury rates among children on all-terrain vehicles. ATVs continue to kill and seriously injure children at alarming rates. The CPSC's meager efforts to stem the tide have been entirely ineffective, and industry has done nothing to make these dangerous vehicles safer."
The CPSC's 2007 Annual Report on ATV-related Deaths and Injuries state that serious injuries requiring emergency room care increased from 146,000 in 2006 to 150,900 in 2007. Since 2001, the increase is statistically significant at 37 percent. The estimated number of ATV-related fatalities was 948 in 2005 and 882 in 2006. The most recent findings for 2007 indicate that there have been 542 reports; however, this figure is expected to rise as more data are compiled. West Virginia, Florida, and Kentucky saw the highest numbers of reported deaths identified in 2005-2007 with 143, 123, and 114, respectively. Also, no less than 107 children under 16 were killed on ATVs in 2007, accounting for 20 percent of all such fatalities and in 2007 in the same age group, there were 40,000 cases of serious injuries--27 percent--representing an increase from 2006 estimates. Since 2001, there has been a statistically significant 17 percent increase in children under 16 who have been seriously injured on ATVs.
In August 2006, CPSC denied a petition filed over six years ago by consumer and health groups that demanded action on ATVs. Instead, the CPSC pursued a rulemaking for ATV standards; however, there is no timeline and progress is stalled. As part of the rulemaking, there is discussion of the development of a "transitional ATV" for children age 14 and older. The transitional vehicle is of particular concern to consumer and public health advocates as these ATVs are expected to contain engines even larger than those currently recommended for children under 16. The CPSC, the ATV industry, the Consumer Federation of America, and many other consumer advocates recommend that children ages 12 through 15 not ride ATVs with engines larger than 90 ccs.
On August 14, 2008, the President signed into the law the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that included a provision focused on ATVs that primarily protected the economic interests of the largest ATV manufacturers.