Oklahoma Legislators Seek Youth Vehicle Waiver From Lead Law

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Two Oklahoma legislators today urged the federal government to amend regulations that have banned the sale of youth all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles, saying the new regulations that have created turmoil in the industry are also unintentionally increasing the risk of child injuries.

State Reps. Ken Luttrell and Rex Duncan have authored House Resolution 1024 urging the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission to provide a waiver or exclusion for youth all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles from toy lead-limit requirements.

"The lead regulations do not make any sense in this situation," noted Luttrell, D-Ponca City. "I don’t think anyone is going to lick a motorcycle engine and get lead poisoning."

The 2008 federal lead regulations, intended to apply to children’s toys, have been applied to component parts of youth vehicles, such as the engine, brakes, battery and other parts – making the vehicles noncompliant.

Under the new regulations, most youth vehicles are now illegal. The legislators say that forces children to drive and ride on adult-sized motorcycles they cannot safely handle, increasing the chance of accidents.

"It is of the utmost importance that young riders only ride appropriately sized machines," said Duncan, R-Sand Springs. "To suddenly eliminate the availability of all ATVs and motorcycles designed for riders ages 12 and under will likely cause some consumers to purchase vehicles that are physically too large for young riders. This is a safety issue for children."

In 2008, there were an estimated 100,000 youth bikes sold in the United States according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. Dealers nationally are now stuck with close to $100 million in now-illegal unsold vehicles, according to estimates.

"I fear if this issue is not addressed immediately, irreparable harm will be done to the powersports industry," Luttrell said. "Many of the small dealers and suppliers are already struggling with an unfavorable economy and will not survive the loss of their youth vehicle and parts sales."

The regulations have also had the unintended consequence of reducing child safety on previously sold motorcycles, Luttrell and Duncan say. With parts for all youth vehicles now illegal, many are no longer safe to operate and others could perform improperly.

"The unavailability of youth off-highway vehicles will devastate family OHV recreation and cripple amateur competition," said Luttrell. "All motorcyclists should come to the defense of our youngest riders."

House Resolution 1024 urges the Consumer Product Safety Commission to take a "common sense" approach to implementation of the lead regulations, noting "there should be a waiver or exclusion for products that do not truly present a lead risk to children."

The resolution is expected to receive a vote in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in the next week.