This photo shows the 2009 Rhino 700 FI Auto 4x4 Sport Edition from Yamaha Motor Corporation USA.

ROV Makers Given More Time to Respond to CPSC

The commission has granted stakeholders until March 15 to comment on its advance notice of proposed rulemaking concerning recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), but the public comments already are pleading for a federal rule.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has granted stakeholders 75 additional days, until March 15, 2010, to comment on its Oct. 28 advance notice of proposed rulemaking concerning recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs). The commission was more generous than the three manufacturers and distributors of such vehicles and a trade association requested; their letters sought a 60-day extension.

The three companies (American Honda Motor Co. Inc., Deere & Company, and Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A.) manufacture and/or distribute multi-purpose off-highway utility vehicles. The Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association sent the other letter.

An ANPRM is not a proposed rulemaking; it is an agency's announcement that a rule may be proposed and certain information about injuries and incidents is sought to inform that decision. In this instance, the commission's staff mete with the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association and considered its draft voluntary safety standard in June 2009 but concluded that standard did not sufficiently address rollovers or occupant protection with seat belts. So the commission asked for a variety of technical information in the ANPRM about belts, stability tests, and ROV design. More than 416,000 ROVs were in use at the end of 2008, versus fewer than 45,000 at the end of 2003, according to the commission, which said it received more than 180 reports of injury or fatality incidents involving them between January 2003 and August 2009.

The online docket (Docket No. CPSC-2009-0087 at www.regulations.gov) contains the text of the ANPRM and about 25 comments by members of the public, nearly all of which say a federal rule is needed and specifically cite dangers of the Yamaha Rhino four-wheeled ROV, a top seller in the category about which the Consumer Product Safety Commission has collected extensive accident information. Yamaha Motor Corporation USA agreed to initiate a voluntary repair program in conjunction with CPSC that includes installing a spacer on each rear wheel and removing the rear anti-sway bar; Yamaha Motor Corporation USA asks customers not to operate their Rhinos until the repairs have been made.

Pediatric trauma surgeon Peter T. Masiakos, MS, MD, FACS, FAAP, who chairs the Pediatric Patient Safety Committee at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, submitted a comment asking for a federal law or rule. "The medical community believes that thoughtful legislation offers the opportunity to prevent the tragedies that you have read about, by demanding that these very risky vehicles are operated only by those able to do so safely," Masiakos wrote. "I am pleased to read that the USCPSC now also shares this sentiment. Unpalatable as it may seem to some, laws that promote health and safety such as graduated licensing and mandatory seat belt use have been shown to reduce injuries beyond that which education and training can do. Laws limiting use of ATVs to children older than the age of consent to drive other motorized vehicles will also effectively reduce injuries and deaths. As a society, we invest heavily in systems and institutions to manage problems once they have occurred. We spend little on efforts to prevent problems though this is a far more effective strategy as you are well aware. This is particularly true in trauma care. Off Road Vehicles, including ATVs are as dangerous to their operators as any vehicle we allow on the highway. It stands to reason that these vehicles should be subject to at least as much regulation and control."

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