ATV sales pitches may ignore age limits, national pediatrician group says

Publish Date: 
Oct 22, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, La. – Dealers could do more to ensure they aren’t selling adult-sized ATVs when the intended end user is younger than 16, a group representing United States pediatricians said today.

Despite prohibitions on selling adult-sized vehicles for riders younger than 16 that were part of the 2009 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), mystery shoppers posing as parents for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) study found many ATV sellers are willing to discuss selling adult-sized vehicles knowing the intended rider is too young, according to new research presented at the AAP’s National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

The ATV Safety Institute in mid-2012 developed free online training for dealership sales staff.  
For information, click HERE.

From 2000 through 2007, a total of 1,160 children younger than 16 years of age died in ATV-related crashes, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSIA prohibits ATV manufacturers from selling or recommending a new, adult-sized ATV for use by children age 16 and younger. The act also requires companies to provide safety materials and rider training to first-time ATV buyers 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. Among their findings:

  • 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.
  • 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."

At the same meeting, AAP released a separate study indicating that ATV warning labels do little to discourage young riders on adult vehicles; and that few young riders receive formal training. Read about that here.

Posted by Holly Wagner