April 25, 2003
CPSC To Hold Regional ATV Safety
Hearing in West Virginia; ATV Injuries Double in Five-year Period, Deaths
Continue To Climb
-All-terrain vehicle safety is the focus of a regional public hearing the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission will hold in Morgantown, W. Va., on
June 5, 2003. ATV-related injuries in the U.S. have doubled in a recent
five-year period and deaths also continue to climb.
"We recognize the growing popularity and diversity of uses for ATVs by the
American public, but we are concerned about the disproportionate increase in
the number of deaths and injuries associated with their use in recent
years," said Hal Stratton, CPSC chairman.
ATV injuries requiring an emergency room visit increased by 104 percent from
an estimated 54,700 in 1997 to more than 111,000 in 2001. In 2001, about a
third of these victims were under 16 years old. In this same period the
estimated number of ATV drivers increased 36 percent, driving hours grew by
50 percent and the number of ATVs increased by 40 percent, according to a
recent CPSC analysis.
For 1999, the last year for which death records are substantially complete,
CPSC has reports of 357 people who died as a result of ATV use, up from 251
in 1998 and 241 in 1997.
"We want to hear from people who use ATVs for recreation, on their farms or
ranches and in industry. We want to understand their motivations. We also
want to hear the perspectives of medical professionals and emergency service
providers, state and local public health and safety professionals,
distributors and dealers, and any others who feel they have a stake in this
important issue," Stratton said.
Interested persons from Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania also are invited to
participate in the West Virginia hearing.
"West Virginia and Pennsylvania ranked in the top six states for ATV-related
deaths between 1982 and 2001," Stratton said, "so it makes sense to hold a
hearing in that area." (Pennsylvania and West Virginia recorded 264 and 194
deaths, respectively, in that period. Ohio recorded 124 deaths and Maryland
"The field hearing gives local people a voice and an opportunity to
participate when they otherwise might not have been able if we limited our
hearings to Washington D.C.," Stratton said.
The Consumer Federation of America and other groups petitioned the CPSC in
September 2002 requesting a ban on the sale of adult-size 4- wheel ATVs sold
for the use of children under the age of 16. The commission sought written
public comments on the petition from October through March 16, 2003. The
West Virginia hearing will provide an additional opportunity for the public
to express its views about this petition.
Requests to make oral presentations at the regional hearing and the text of
the presentation must be submitted to the CPSC, Office of the Secretary, no
later than May 29, 2003. The hearing is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Robert
C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, West Virginia University Health Sciences
Campus, in Morgantown.
In the 1980s the CPSC held hearings in several locations around the country
to address hazards associated with ATVs, namely as they related to the
then-popular three-wheeled vehicles.
In 1987, the commission filed a lawsuit under section 12 of the Consumer
Product Safety Act to declare ATVs an imminently hazardous consumer product.
The lawsuit was settled in 1988 by consent decrees between the commission
and ATV distributors. The consent decrees expired in 1998. The consent
decrees contained provisions addressing both three-wheel and four-wheel
ATVs, and led to the elimination of the manufacture of three-wheeled ATVs.
After the consent decrees expired, the commission entered into "ATV Action
Plans" with individual distributors who had been subject to the original
consent decrees and three other distributors who had subsequently entered
the market. In the consent decrees and action plans, ATV distributors agreed
to use their best efforts to see that adult-size ATVs (vehicles with engines
larger than 90 cc) would not be sold for use by children under 16 years of
Since the expiration of the consent decrees, the commission has continued to
study and gather information about ATV-related injuries and deaths. It also
continues to monitor the ATV dealer market to make sure that industry
complies with the agreement not to sell adult-size ATVs for children.
From 1997 to 2001, ATV-related injuries rose 104 percent, from an estimated
54,700 to 111,700. Over the same five years:
the number of drivers rose 36 percent from 12.0 to 16.3 million; the number
of driving hours rose 50 percent from 1,575 to 2,364 million; and the number
of ATVs rose 40 percent from 4.0 to 5.6 million.
None of these exposure measures accounts completely for the rise in
Subgroups that have been associated with greater risk for injury continue to
be at greater risk in 2001; for example, drivers under the age of 16,
drivers with less than one year of driving experience, and recreational
CPSC was petitioned by consumer organizations in September 2002 to ban the
sale of adult-size 4-wheel ATVs sold for use by children under age 16.
CPSC will consider its recent injury/exposure studies and all other
information, including that obtained at the regional hearing in West
Virginia, in responding to the petition.