Despite a new federal law that prohibits the sale of adult-sized all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for use by children under age 16, most ATV sellers are willing to discuss doing so, according to new research presented Oct. 22 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.
From 2000 through 2007, a total of 1,160 children less than 16 years of age died in ATV-related crashes according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Since April 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act prohibits ATV manufacturers from selling or recommending a new, adult-sized ATV (which can weigh over 800 pounds and reach speeds of 70 to 80 miles per hour) for use by children age 16 and younger. The act also requires companies to provide safety materials and rider training to first time ATV purchasers and their immediate family. In the study, "The Safety Information and Guidance Provided to Parents by All-Terrain Vehicle Dealers and Sales Representatives," researchers posed as parents interested in buying an adult-sized ATV for a 12-year-old son at 50 dealerships in four states.
Seventy percent of the dealers were willing to show and discuss the sale of an adult-sized ATV to the researcher when told that the purchase was for a 12-year-old rider. When the investigator commented on the vehicle seat being long enough for the boy to give his 8-year-old sibling a ride, only seven (14 percent) of the dealers correctly told the researcher that the ATV should have no extra riders. Most traditional ATVs have one seat intended for one rider. When prompted by the question, "My 12-year-old is interested in driving his ATV in a public off-highway vehicle park. Are there any around here?" only one dealer/salesperson informed the researcher about the need for a 12-year-old to complete ATV safety training, in the states where such training is required.
In several instances, a dealer resistant to discussing the sale of a new ATV was very willing to show the potential buyer a used vehicle, which is not covered by the 2009 federal law.
"Obviously, a large percentage of dealers and sellers were willing to discuss the sale of an adult-sized ATV for a 12-year-old," said study author Charles A. Jennissen, MD, FAAP. "There also appears to be a don't ask, don't tell relationship between seller and buyer, with sellers not typically asking buyers about the age of potential child users, which limits the impact of regulation enforcement."
"Dealers are there to sell vehicles, although they could be very important partners in preventing child ATV injuries and deaths," according to Dr. Jennissen.