All-terrain vehicles (ATV), which are off-road motorized vehicles, usually with four tires, a straddle seat for the operator, and handlebars for steering control, have become increasingly popular. However, ATV fatalities and injuries have increased over the last decade and are a matter of concern to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (Commission), which oversees ATV safety, and to others. Many ATV crashes involving children occur when they are riding adult-sized ATVs. Manufacturers and distributors have agreed to use their best efforts to prevent their dealers from selling adult-sized ATVs for use by children under the age of 16. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act requires GAO to report on (1) how ATVs are used and the advantages of their use and (2) the nature, extent, and costs of ATV crashes. GAO addressed these topics by reviewing ATV use and crash data and by discussing these issues with Commission staff, industry officials, user groups, and safety stakeholders.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Consumer Product Safety Commission||1. To enhance the Consumer Product Safety Commission's oversight of ATV safety, the Commission should, when sufficient data are available, assess whether the size, power and weight of ATVs have increased in recent years and, if so, whether and how those increases correlate with the severity of injuries. Commission staff should consider the results of this assessment in the agency's future rulemaking on ATV safety issues.|
|Consumer Product Safety Commission||2. To enhance the Consumer Product Safety Commission's oversight of ATV safety, the Commission should resume undercover checks of ATV dealers, focusing on new market entrants, which have not been tested, to assess dealers' willingness to sell adult-sized ATVs for use by children.|
|Consumer Product Safety Commission||3. To enhance the Consumer Product Safety Commission's oversight of ATV safety, the Commission should consider how the Commission's enforcement of the age recommendations can be strengthened and act accordingly. Options could include, but are not limited to, requiring ATV manufacturers and distributors to (1) provide more specific language about how they will enforce their dealers' compliance with the age recommendations and (2) make dealership agreements with dealers available for Commission staff to inspect how the agreements address the age recommendations. In addition, the Commission could consider making all of the action plans publicly available.|