Recreational Off-Road Vehicle Rules Proposed

Our Atlanta attorneys frequently review cases involving recreational off-road vehicles which involve death and serious injury. The Consumer Product Safety Commission staff has recommended that the agency set mandatory rules to regulate recreational off-road vehicles.
The CPSC’s five commissioners received the written recommendation this week, and must propose a rulemaking before any rules could be implemented. An agency spokesman said the commissioners could vote on whether to proceed with the rulemaking as early as Wednesday of this week.
The off-road vehicles, also known as ROVs, generally have four or more low-pressure tires, seat one or more persons, and are intended mainly for recreational use. ROVs have surged in popularity with more than 416,000 in use at the end of 2008 compared with less than 45,000 in 2003. According to the CPSC 181 accidents occurred between 2003 and August of this year, resulting in 152 injuries and 116 deaths.
ROVs aren’t subject to the safety standards for longer-established ATVs, or all-terrain vehicles, because of certain design differences. Voluntary safety standards for ATVs became mandatory this year, after a federal product-safety law mandated them.
Many products are governed by voluntary standards set by industry experts. The CPSC sets mandatory standards for products that potentially pose the biggest safety hazards to consumers.
Some consumer-safety advocates blame the ROV accidents on lax regulation by government, claiming it has allowed young people to ride vehicles that are too large and too fast for their safety. Some riders have also alleged poor design, which they say allows certain vehicles to roll over easily.
In April, Yamaha Motor agreed to suspend sales of its Rhino 450, 660 and 700 recreational off-road vehicles, and to offer free modifications to Rhinos already in service, to make them less prone to rollover accidents.
The move followed a CPSC investigation of more than 50 incidents involving Rhino 450 and 660 models that had resulted in 46 driver and passenger deaths. More than two-thirds of the cases involved rollovers, many with unbelted occupants.

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