A report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) caused 113,900 injuries requiring emergency room treatment in 2002, breaking a record set in 2001. This increase in injuries continues a trend dating to 1993. The CPSC also estimates that ATV-related deaths were the highest ever, rising from 569 in 2000 to a minimum of 634 in 2001.
"The continuous growth in serious ATV injuries and fatalities demonstrates how pervasive this public health crisis is and why it is time for a new approach to ATV safety," stated Rachel Weintraub, assistant general counsel at Consumer Federation of America. "Unfortunately these deaths and injuries add to the already substantial body of evidence pointing to the need for more aggressive action by the [CPSC] and state governments."
This new data follows the release of a report in August by Consumer Federation of America, Natural Trails and Waters Coalition and doctors documenting how the ATV industry's voluntary approach to safety is failing to reduce serious injuries or protect children under 16 from the dangers posed by adult-size ATVs. This report, ATV Safety Crisis: America's Children STILL At Risk, also describes and challenges the industry's proposal, floated in June, to abolish age recommendations and put some children on bigger, faster ATVs made specifically for adults.
"Five years after the industry assumed its voluntary approach to safety, serious injuries and deaths caused by ATVs continue to break records," said Scott Kovarovics, Director of the Natural Trails and Waters Coalition. "In light of the fact that ATVs sent more than 37,000 children to the emergency room in 2002, it defies explanation that the industry would work to abolish age recommendations and put some children on bigger, faster ATVs."
Major findings of the CPSC 2002 Annual Report on All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Deaths and Injuries include:
Serious injuries requiring emergency room treatment increased from 110,100 in 2001 to 113,900 in 2002.
The estimated number of ATV-related fatalities increased 11 percent from 569 in 2000 to 634 in 2001.
Children under 16 suffered 37,100 injuries in 2002 up from 34,300 in 2001. This age group received more serious injuries than any other.
Between 1985 and 2002, children under 16 accounted for 37 percent of all injuries and 33 percent of all deaths.
The CPSC continues to make clear that the increase in injuries is not explained by rising ATV sales.
The CPSC provides fatality data by state. California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, New York, West Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina are listed in order from one to ten based on reported deaths between 1982 and 2002.
The report from Consumer Federation, Natural Trails and doctors calls on CPSC to take a leadership role by issuing a national safety standard that would help protect children under 16 from dangerous adult-size ATVs by prohibiting the sale of these ATVs for use by children. This standard would provide a minimum level of protection for every child, give CPSC a strong enforcement tool to hold ATV dealers accountable, and send a powerful message to parents about how dangerous adult-size ATVs are for children under 16.
The release of the 2002 injury data comes just one week before CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton will hold a public hearing on ATV safety in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This hearing, slated for November 6, will be the third by the Chairman or the full Commission this year. These hearings have been prompted in part by a petition from Consumer Federation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other medical and conservation groups calling for the national safety standard described above.