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State Prosecutors Ask Honda for More Information on ATVs

November 17, 1987|CAROL McGRAW | Times Staff Writer

After an all-day meeting, legal officials from 26 states Monday asked American Honda Inc. for additional information on all-terrain vehicles' safety design and the company's marketing strategies and education programs for buyers.

The staff members from state attorney general offices will meet again in Los Angeles today to discuss possible legal action that can be taken against ATV manufacturers, if necessary, to ensure greater safety.

ATVs have been blamed for nearly 800 deaths and more than 300,000 injuries since 1982, according to state prosecutors. Half of the deaths were children 15 years of age or younger. While critics have maintained that the three-wheeled vehicles are unstable, manufacturers have said that the roll-overs were caused by riders using the machines in an unsafe manner.

"We are still very concerned, and we don't want this to drag on forever, but we need more information from the manufacturers," said Duane Peterson, a spokesman for California Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp.

Kurt Antonius, a spokesman for Gardena-based American Honda, which controls about 65% of the ATV market in the United States, said that manufacturers support legislation that would promote safety by ATV owners.

The company contends that the machines are not defective, and noted that improved safety training had resulted in a decline over the last 2 1/2 years in the injury rate. There was a 14% decline in injuries in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period in 1986, officials said.

The attorneys general called for the meeting because they said the federal government had failed to take effective action on the problem.

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