Watchdog Report: ATV Uses, Crashes, and Sales to Children
U.S. Government Accountability Office
April 15, 2010
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From the U.S. Government Accountability Office, www.gao.gov Transcript for: Watchdog Report #13: ATV Uses, Crashes, and Sales to Children Audio interview by GAO staff with Susan Fleming, Director, Physical Infrastructure 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 uses? [ 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 transportation. [ 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 economy. [ 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 alcohol. [ 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 children? [ 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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