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Watchdog Report: ATV Uses, Crashes, and Sales to Children

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Watchdog Report: ATV Uses, Crashes, and Sales to Children

U.S. Government Accountability Office
April 15, 2010

Listen to Watchdog Report: ATV Uses, Crashes, and Sales to Children - MP3 - 3.9MB - 4:14

From the U.S. Government Accountability Office, www.gao.gov

Transcript for: Watchdog Report #13: ATV Uses, Crashes, and Sales to
Audio interview by GAO staff with Susan Fleming, Director, Physical
Associated Report Number: GAO-10-418

Released on: April 15, 2010

[ Background Music ]

[Narrator:] Welcome to GAO's Watchdog Report, your source for news and
information from the Government Accountability Office. It's April 15th,
2010. All-terrain vehicles or ATVs have become increasingly popular for
recreation, farming, and other transportation purposes. But with this
increased popularity has come an increase in ATV injuries and deaths
with children accounting for 1 in 5 ATV-related fatalities. A group led
by Susan Fleming, Director in GAO's Physical Infrastructure team,
recently investigated ATV use, the costs of crashes, and the sale of
adult-sized vehicles for use by children. GAO analyst Jeremy Cluchey sat
down with Susan to learn more.

[ Jeremy Cluchey: ] Can you talk about ATVs and some of their common

[ Susan Fleming: ] ATVs are mainly recreation vehicles and they're
usually with four large tires, a straddle seat and handle bars. As you
can imagine, they're extremely popular with about 10 million in use.
Although they're mostly used for fun such as trail riding, some people
also use them in their jobs -- farmers, police patrols and in some
remote parts of the country such as Alaska, they're even used as public

[ Jeremy Cluchey: ]In this report, GAO looked at the advantages of ATV
use as well as the risks and costs associated with ATV crashes. What are
some of the advantages GAO identified?

[ Susan Fleming: ] ATVs can be used to reach remote places that other
four-wheel drive vehicle such as jeeps can not. And they can haul gear
such as camping equipment. ATV owners said that riding ATVs is fun. It
allows them to spend time with their families and they can enjoy the
outdoors. Several states such as West Virginia and Utah have also
established trails for riding ATVs. And that can also help the local

[ Jeremy Cluchey: ] ATV-related injuries and fatalities have increased
in recent years as well. Can you talk about those numbers?

[ Susan Fleming: ] The Consumer Product Safety Commission which oversees
ATV safety estimates that in recent years ATV crashes caused about
400,000 injuries and 800 deaths a year. This compares to about 250,000
injuries and about 500 deaths per year 10 years ago. However, during the
last decade, the number of ATVs and use almost tripled. And crashes can
happen for many reasons such as reckless driving, speeding, or drinking

[ Jeremy Cluchey: ]In the report, you note that about 1 in 5 ATV
fatalities is a child. What did GAO find with regard to the use and
sales of the adult-sized ATVs to children?

[ Susan Fleming: ] Our research found that most fatal crashes involving
children occurred when they were riding adult-sized ATVs which are often
too large and powerful for them to handle. Manufacturers and
distributors have agreed to use their best efforts to prevent their
dealers from selling adult-sized ATVs for use by children.

[ Jeremy Cluchey: ]Can you talk about how GAO went about investigating
the willingness of ATV dealers to sell adult-sized ATVs for use by

[ Susan Fleming: ] GAO undercover agents posed as buyers at ATV dealers
in four states and found that 7 of the 10 dealers they checked were
willing to sell adult-sized ATVs for use by children.

[ Jeremy Cluchey: ]What recommendations does this GAO report contain for
the Consumer Product Safety Commission?

[ Susan Fleming: ] We recommended that the commission consider ways to
improve its ability to prevent the sale of adult-sized ATVs for use by
children, to resume its checks of dealers' willingness to sell
adult-sized ATVs for use by children, which they had stopped doing a
couple of years ago, and to investigate whether the size, power and
weight of ATVs have increased in recent years and if so, whether this
has affected the severity of injuries.

[ Background Music ]

[Narrator:] To learn more, visit GAO's Web site at gao.gov, and be sure
to tune in to the next edition of GAO's Watchdog Report for more from
the congressional watchdog, the Government Accountability Office.

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