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Off-Road Vehicles

November 27, 1986

As a writer with the consumer and trade press in the ATV and motorcycle fields, I must respond to your article regarding ATV safety.

Any injury and every death is tragic, especially on an ATV, because of the high percentage of young people involved. Still, before anyone considers banning the product, thus depriving people of its recreational, agricultural and industrial uses, it's wise to define the problem.

I wrote an article about the situation, which was published in the July issue of Motorcycle Industry, the leading trade publication. In it I compared the numbers of deaths and injuries on ATVs with those of all registered motor vehicles. . . .

The Consumer Product Safety Commission investigating ATV safety noted that 174 deaths occurred in 1985 (again latest figures available) and estimated 85,900 injuries on approximately 2 million ATVs. My figures show the ATV ratio is one fatality per 11,494 ATVs, and one injury per 23.28. On a per-vehicle basis, nearly three people die in registered motor vehicles for every one who dies on an ATV. However, about twice as many ATV riders are injured per vehicle.

Certainly, this comparison is apples to oranges. Highway vehicles travel much greater distances at much greater speeds; ATVs travel much more complicated terrain that requires hundreds of rider inputs per mile. Vehicle drivers have the advantage of seat belts and are surrounded by metal shells; ATV riders are protected only by what they wear, and most of them wear no protective equipment. In my opinion, these facts show the CPSC was justified in calling for training rather than a product ban or redesign of ATVs.

I have taken the ATV Rider's Course offered by the Speciality Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) and learned two very important points. One, every ATV rider must wear full protective gear consisting of a helmet, eye protection, boots, gloves, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Two, the three-wheeled ATV requires training and experience to ride well. I urge anyone who rides an ATV to complete the SVIA's ATV Rider's Course; information on the course nearest you can be found by calling toll free (800) 447-4700. At this number you may also request the SVIA's free booklets such as "Tips for ATV Riders," "Parents, Youngsters and ATVs" and "An Adventure in Safety."

BILL STERMER

Oxnard

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