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American Motorcyclist:CPSC decides to stay enforcement of law banning youth-model motorcycles and ATVs

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 | 9:00 AM

The vote is in: CPSC decides to stay enforcement of law banning youth-model motorcycles and ATVs

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has voted to stay enforcement of a lead law that currently bans the sale of youth-model motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). The stay, which extends through May 1, 2011, follows a unanimous vote by Acting Chairwoman Nancy Nord and Commissioner Thomas Moore.

The AMA Government Relations Department is currently examining the 25-page Stay of Enforcement document and will issue more details shortly. It can be viewed by clicking here.

The law in question is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Designed to protect children from lead in toys that might easily end up in children's mouths, the language of the legislation has ensnared a number of products that have little exposure risk, including youth-model motorcycles and ATVs.

"While we applaud the CPSC commissioners' vote to stay enforcement of the law, this doesn't solve the real issue, which is the law itself," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. "Youth-model motorcycles and ATVs should be exempt from the law, and Congress needs to act to make that happen. Hopefully, this stay will give Congress the time it needs to fix this law, and we will continue to work with both legislators and our partners in the industry to make certain that it does."

Moreland added that nearly 80,000 AMA and ATVA (All-Terrain Vehicle Association) members contacted their lawmakers and the CPSC to let them know how they feel. "I'm convinced this helped shape Chairman Nord's and Commissioner Moore's decision to support a moratorium on enforcing the lead law," he said.

Despite the stay, it is unclear whether state attorneys general will also decline to enforce the CPSIA. The sale of youth-model motorcycles and ATVs is still technically illegal. Even though a stay means that dealers would not be subject to fines or penalties imposed by the CPSC, state attorneys general would still be able to prosecute violators if they chose to do so.

"Motorcyclists and ATV riders need to let the Congress know that we are concerned about the law, and that we want kids' OHVs excluded from the law," said Moreland. "We need to continue to let our decision-makers know how we feel."

Riders should contact their federal lawmakers and ask them to support legislation to exempt youth-sized motorcycles and ATVs from the CPSIA by going to the "Rights" and then "Issues and Legislation" section of the AMA website at

Also, individuals can sign up for the AMA/ATVA Government Relations Department's Action E-list so that they can be notified by e-mail when their support is needed to make a difference on important issues.

Those interested in circulating a petition to change the CPSIA should contact Jessica Irving, AMA/ATVA grassroots coordinator, at [email protected].

CPSIA Background
The CPSIA took effect in February and it immediately stopped the sale of dirt bikes and ATVs designed for children 12 and under. The law was meant to protect children from dangerous levels of lead in toys, but it was written so broadly that it also impacted children's books, clothes, motorcycles and ATVs.

Under the CPSIA, all youth products containing lead must have less than 600 parts per million by weight. The CPSC has interpreted the law to apply to various components of youth-model motorcycles and ATVs, including the engine, brakes, suspension, battery and other mechanical parts. Even though the lead levels in these parts are small, they are still above the minimum threshold.

To ensure continued availability and access to youth-model motorcycles and ATVs, the Motorcycle Industry Council, Specialty Vehicle Industry Association, the AMA, ATVA and others asked the CPSC to consider petitions submitted to exclude youth-model motorcycles and ATVs from the final rule governing the law.

The CPSC staff admits that the risk of exposure to lead from youth-model motorcycles and ATVs is relatively low. But the staff told the commissioners that the law is written so strictly that no lead absorption into the body is allowed. As a result, they say, motorcycles and ATVs shouldn't be exempt from the law.

In April, the two-member CPSC rejected an industry request to exempt youth-model off-road motorcycles and ATVs from the CPSIA because the agency did not believe that it had the authority to exclude these vehicles from the lead-content limits imposed by Congress. However, the commissioners signaled their desire to issue a stay to give Congress the opportunity to change the law so that youth-model motorcycles and ATVs can be legally sold. The commissioners also expressed hope that manufacturers will use the delay to make changes to their products to make them meet the requirements of the new law.

"...ATVs and motorized bikes appropriately sized for children 12 and younger can again be available and the commission will not seek penalties for violation of Section 101 and related provisions of the (law) against those who sell them," said Acting CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord on April 3. "I hope that the state attorneys general will follow the lead of the agency on this matter.

"All stakeholders -- industry, users, Congress and the commission -- need to come together to fix the statutory problems that have become so apparent, in a common sense approach that does not unnecessarily burden those regulated, yet provides safety for American families," she said.