Academy works to ban sale of ATVs to kids

May 5, 2005 - Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Little Rock

Mary Aitken, M.D., Ph.D., FAAP, testified March 22 on behalf of the Academy before the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) seeking national safety standards for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). The standards would include banning the sale of adult-size ATVs for use by children younger than 16 years of age.

In August 2002, the Academy submitted a petition along with the Consumer Federation of America, American College of Emergency Physicians and six other national medical, conservation and consumer groups asking the CPSC to provide a national safety standard. CPSC staff has recommended that the agency deny the petition. However, the CPSC commissioners met March 22 to hear a briefing from their staff and others opposed to the petition as well as to hear testimony from Dr. Aitken and other interested consumer groups in support. The recommendation comes on the heels of a CPSC report indicating that ATV-related injuries and deaths broke records for the second consecutive year, and that children continue to suffer a disproportionate share of serious injuries and fatalities. In her testimony, Dr. Aitken cited a national safety standard as a fundamental component of a more comprehensive approach to this serious public health problem. "The present state of affairs is entirely ineffective in keeping children safe. While a sales ban would not solve this problem in its entirety, it is a necessary part of a multi-pronged approach to reduce the injuries and deaths associated with these products," said Dr. Aitken. "Even if a sales ban on its own only prevents a relatively small proportion of ATV-related child deaths and injuries, I hope you will agree that it is a crucial step in protecting our nation's children." CPSC staff acknowledged that a national standard barring the sale of adult-size ATVs for use by children under age 16 would have "substantial benefits," and "getting children to drive youth models rather than more powerful adult models could reduce the injury risk by half." Despite that, CPSC staff has recommended agency officials deny the petition. "I work on the front lines as a pediatric emergency physician and have been an unwilling witness to the escalating carnage among children due to ATVs," said Gary A. Smith, M.D., Dr.P.H., FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. "It is incredibly tragic that CPSC is on the brink of letting this opportunity of saving young lives slip by. With one vote, CPSC could save more lives than I could ever hope to save in an entire career working in a major trauma center." The commission can respond to the recommendation by denying the AAP-endorsed petition, granting the petition and initiating the rule-making process or deferring a decision to a later date. At press time, the CPSC had not made its decision.

Footnotes –Carla Kemp contributed to this report.

AAP News Vol. 26 No. 5 May 2005, p. 4 © 2005 American Academy of Pediatrics


Hope Mullins
Research Coordinator
Injury Free Coalition for Kids Little Rock