WASHINGTON – Mothers whose sons died on all-terrain vehicles made an emotional plea to federal regulators Wednesday, asking them to ban sales of adult-size ATVs intended for children.
The families told the Consumer Product Safety Commission that such a law – even if difficult to regulate – would make parents more aware of ATV dangers and less likely to let their children ride larger vehicles.
The agency is expected to vote this year on a petition to prohibit sales of new, full-size ATVs for children under 16.
“Yes, parents should know better – but if we don’t have the information, how can we make informed decisions?” said Sue DeLoretto-Rabe of Turner, Ore., whose 10-year-old son Kyle died in 2002. “We were not told at all that our child should not be on that.”
Four mothers, part of a new group called Concerned Families for ATV Safety that lobbies for tougher laws, met separately with CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton and Commissioner Thomas Moore.
Though they said Moore expressed support for the petition – filed in 2002 by consumer and physicians groups – other signs indicate the three-member commission will reject it.
In February, a CPSC staff report advised against it, arguing that restricting sales would not necessarily keep children off larger ATVs, since the commission cannot control what riders and parents ultimately do with their four-wheelers.
Also, Stratton has previously said he does not think a ban would mean fewer accidents, noting that most accidents are due to improper behavior such as riding on paved roads or not wearing protective gear.
Children under 16 accounted for about a third of the nearly 6,000 ATV deaths reported since 1982, according to the CPSC. Of fatalities where engine size and driver age are known, 86 percent involved children on adult-size ATVs.
The industry has voluntary rules requiring dealers to inform customers of the dangers of children on larger vehicles, although 30 percent of dealers did not comply in 2004, CPSC staff said.