Despite the continuing high levels of serious injuries sustained by passengers and especially children under 16 involving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to defer a 2002 petition from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and seven other organizations, seeking a ban of the sale of adult-sized ATVs for use by children.
Instead, the CPSC voted to issue an "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" (ANPR) regarding the risks of injury and death posed by ATVs.
“The profound increase in injuries and deaths caused by ATVs show how pervasive this national epidemic has become. This tragic problem is in need of an aggressive and immediate solution by CPSC and state governments,” said Rachel Weintraub, Director of Product Safety for Consumer Federation of America.
“Pediatric emergency department physicians have learned to expect devastating injuries when a child crashes an ATV,” said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, FAAP, Chair of the AAP Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention.
“In 2004, ATVs killed at least 130 children and injured over 44,000. This is the equivalent of two school buses full of children dying and the entire population of Palm Springs, California being severely injured. For almost 20 years, physicians and consumer advocates have been pressing the CPSC to pass meaningful regulations to reduce the carnage. It’s time for real action," Smith said.
The CPSC 2004 Annual Report on ATV-related Deaths and Injuries announced the following results.
• Serious injuries requiring emergency room treatment increased almost 8% from 125,500 in 2003 to 136,100 in 2004.
• The estimated number of ATV-related fatalities increased from 617 in 2002 to 740 in 2003 another record.
• In 2004, ATVs killed at least 130 children younger than 16 accounting for 28% of fatalities.
• Children under 16 suffered 44,700 serious injuries in 2004, or 33% of all injuries. This is an almost 16% increase from 2003 when children suffered 38,600 serious injuries. This increase in 2004 is statistically significant.
• Between 1985 and 2004, children under 16 accounted for 31% of all injuries.
The risk estimate for 2004 is 187.9 compared with 188.4 in 2003. According to CPSC, this slight reduction is not statistically significant.
CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton has directed Commission staff to issue a broad review as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR). This could ultimately lead CPSC to take regulatory or non-regulatory action to protect consumers from ATV deaths and injuries, but is just the first step in a multi stage rulemaking process with no definitive timeline for the full process. The public has 60 days to respond to this ANPR.
While the ANPR outlines many issues to evaluate, of particular importance is the development of a “transitional ATV” for children 14 and older. The CPSC, the ATV industry, and many consumer advocates recommend that children 12 through 15 not ride ATVs with engines larger than 90 cc’s. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no child under age 16 ride an ATV of any size.