New ATV Standard Goes Into Effect

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Starting today, manufacturers and distributors have to comply with the new ATV standard created by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008.

Below is the section of our "Dealer’s Guide to the CPSIA" that explains the new standard.

Manufacturers and distributors have to comply with a new ATV standard for all quads imported or sold to dealers on April 13 and afterward (though this may not be entirely true — see the editor’s note at the end of this section).

The standard has been around for a couple of years. To explain: Back in the mid-’80s, after the CPSC sued the ATV makers, they each signed mandatory Consent Decrees outlawing three-wheelers and specifying several safety regulations. The Consent Decrees expired in 1998, but the manufacturers continued to follow similar rules and programs on a voluntary basis. The Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (a branch of the MIC funded by the manufacturers) started developing an ATV standard in 1985, and in 1990 the American National Standards Institute approved the first standard for quads. The SVIA updated the standard in 2001 and 2007.

Last September, new three-wheelers were officially outlawed again. Starting April 13 of this year, all ATVs imported or sold to dealers must meet the 2007 standard, which is sold on the SVIA website for $60. The standard specifies requirements concerning an ATV’s equipment and configuration (including requirements for owner’s manuals, labels and hang tags), maximum speed capabilities, age recommendations, service and parking brakes, pitch stability, electromagnetic compatibility and sound level limits. It also requires that quads have a certification label indicating that they comply with the ANSI/SVIA standard.

In addition, manufacturers and distributors must have an action plan on file with the CPSC. An action plan is a document outlining the safety-related actions the manufacturer or distributor agrees to take concerning ATVs. The major OEMs filed such action plans back in 1998, and all new plans must be “substantially similar” to theirs. Note, however, that the ANSI/SVIA standard trumps many of the provisions from the 1998 plans. Age recommendations, for example, are now based on speed rather than on engine size.

The CPSC must approve any action plan filed after Aug. 14, 2008 (the day the CPSIA was enacted).

And it’s not enough just to have a plan on file: The OEM or distributor must be in full compliance with it. This is a tall order. Action plans include advertising and POP materials, safety alerts, a toll-free ATV hotline, a safety video and free, hands-on rider training for first-time buyers and their immediate families. OEMs and distributors must also monitor compliance through dealership inspections conducted by independent inspectors, and they must take action against noncompliant dealers. Every ATV must have a label identifying the manufacturer, the importer or private labeler, and the action plan to which it is subject.

So what does this all mean for dealers? First of all, the major OEMs already have been complying with the SVIA/ANSI standard and an action plan. But now that ATVs are officially subject to a consumer product safety standard, they must issue a general conformity certificate with each quad saying that it conforms to the standard.

Many of the newer importers have a lot of catching up to do. Dealers who wish to comply with the law after April 12 should ask for confirmation from the importer or distributor that it is meeting all the requirements above. On April 13 and afterward, dealers should have access to a conformity certificate for every quad they buy.

We have asked the CPSC for a list of all companies with an action plan on file, and hope to post it soon.

Ninety days after the CPSC publishes accreditation requirements for labs that will test conformity to the ATV standard (scheduled for mid-June), the agency will require third-party testing for all ATVs intended primarily for children 12 and younger. Why? Because eventually all children’s products subject to a product safety rule will require third-party testing. Luckily, the agency will allow manufacturers to continue to use in-house testing for certifying adult ATVs.

(Editor’s note: The “Final Rule: Standard for All Terrain Vehicles” published by the CPSC in the Federal Register on Nov. 14, 2008, is ambiguous. In reference to the new ATV standard, it states, “This means that ATVs manufactured on or after the date [April 13] must comply with the standard. They also must meet additional requirements related to action plans.” But immediately following this, the agency quotes the actual law: “After the standard takes effect [April 13] it shall be unlawful for any manufacturer or distributor to import into or distribute in commerce in the United States any new assembled or unassembled all-terrain vehicle …” unless it meets the requirements. The actual statute seems to say that the standard applies to new ATVs made before April 13 but not yet imported or distributed in commerce. And the CPSC rule gets even more confusing. Later in the regulation, the commission states that the requirements “apply to new assembled or unassembled ATVs manufactured or imported on or after that date.” So according to this statement, the standards apply to ATVs made in a foreign country before April 13 but not yet imported into the U.S. We have contacted the CPSC for clarification.)