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ATV Industry Continues to Put Safety First

Mon, Nov/29/2004

 ATV Sales on Track Nationwide for 13th Year of Consecutive Growth; In California, Sales of New ATVs Have More Than Quadrupled from 1998 to 2003

With the increasing popularity of ATVs both nationwide and especially in California, the safe and responsible use of ATVs remains the top priority of the ATV industry, which continues to promote multi-tiered efforts aimed at further reducing the number of accidents and injuries caused by improper use of ATVs.

For more than two decades, ATV manufacturers have made unprecedented efforts to promote the safe and responsible use of ATVs and to deter parents from allowing their children to use adult-sized ATVs. The industry has developed an unparalleled safety education program through the ATV Safety Institute (ASI). Virtually all new ATV purchasers are offered cash incentives to enroll in this free, industry-sponsored hands-on, half-day rider education course. Nationwide, an average of 200 ASI RiderCourses are conducted weekly, offered at more than 900 training sites, by 1,611 active ASI Instructors.

One of the industry's latest public education programs involves Lifetime Learning Systems, a division of Weekly Reader. ATV safety education materials will be distributed to middle schools and high schools nationwide for use in the classroom in spring of 2005.

Popularity of ATV riding pushes growth trend/California leads the way

Based on Motorcycle Industry Council estimates, California ranked number one nationwide in sales of new ATVs for 2003, and sales of new ATVs in California have more than quadrupled from 1998 to 2003.

In the United States, sales of new ATVs have increased steadily since 1991. Nationally, new unit ATV sales are up .5 percent through October 2004 compared to the same period in 2003, marking the 13th straight year of growth for these modern workhorses and popular recreational products. When estimated ATV unit sales to date for this decade (Jan. 2000 - Oct. 20, 200404) are compared with the previous, we find that new unit sales of ATVs have already increased 34 percent over the entire 1990-1999 decade.

An estimated 16.3 million Americans ride ATVs in the United States. The MIC's just-released 2003 Motorcycle/ATV Owner Survey reports that nationwide, ATVs are used three-fourths of the time for recreation/fun activities, and the remaining time for work/chores.

ATV Rider Certificate Requirements and Training in California

When operating an ATV on public land in California, state law currently requires that all ATV riders under 18 years of age must have an ASI ATV Safety Certificate, or be supervised by an adult who possesses the Certificate. Also according to California state law, all riders under the age of 14 must be supervised by an adult, however the ATV Safety Institute strongly recommends that parents always supervise children under 16. A Certificate is obtained by either completing the ASI ATV RiderCourse, or participating in the course as an "observer."

Purchasers of new ATVs may qualify for free training by ASI member companies, who also offer cash incentives upon completion. Thanks to a California state-sponsored subsidy, all California residents age 16 and under will be trained for free. Training is available to anyone who doesn't qualify for free training for a modest fee.

Since 1988, ASI has trained 605,374 students in the United States.

In California, the ATV Safety Institute has more than 200 active ASI Instructors teaching at 37 training sites. In 2003, the last complete year for which training statistics are available, ASI increased the number of students trained in California by 31% over 2002.

To find an ATV RiderCourse, consumers should call toll free (800) 887-2887. Riding tips and safety information is also available at www.atvsafety.org.

Consumer Product Safety Commission Report Shows Injury Rate Decline

Research has shown that the vast majority of ATV crashes result from inappropriate use of the product. In fact, more than 92% of all accidents involve one or more user behaviors that are strongly and visibly "warned against" by the industry in dealerships, in product literature, in public awareness messages, through rider training, and on the vehicle itself.

These risky behaviors include riding without a helmet, riding with a passenger, children riding adult-sized ATVs, children riding unsupervised, riding on public roads, and riding at excessive speed. To address these "warned against behaviors," the industry's Model State Legislation imposes age limits and other restrictions on ATV operation. The industry's Model State Legislation has served as the basis for many existing state ATV safety laws. For example, West Virginia just this year passed its first ATV safety legislation and SVIA's government relations staff was heavily involved - for many, many years - in efforts to promote ATV safety legislation in that state.

Even with the continuing growth in the ATV market, the CPSC's data show that the number of injuries is growing at a lesser rate in proportion to the ATV population itself - in fact, the ATV injury rate declined 5% from 2001 to 2002, the same year the ATV industry saw over 5% growth in new unit sales. CPSC data also show a 15% decline since 1997 in the proportion of total ATV-related injuries that involve children under 16. When the rising population of ATVs in use is taken into account, there has been no appreciable upward trend in injury risk since 1998.

This trend notwithstanding, the safe and responsible use of ATVs remains the top priority of the ATV industry, and the industry will continue to enhance its multi-tiered efforts aimed at further reducing the number of accidents and injuries caused by the improper use of ATVs.

All ATV riders and prospective riders should follow these recommendations for the safe and responsible use of ATVs:

        Golden Rules for Safe ATV Operation

        1. Always wear a helmet and other protective gear.
        2. Never ride on public roads - another vehicle could hit you.
        3. Never ride under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
        4. Never carry a passenger on a single-rider vehicle.
        5. Ride an ATV that's right for your age. The CPSC age/size
           guidelines are:
            Age 6 and older      Under 70cc
            Age 12 and older     70cc - 90cc
            Age 16 and older     Over 90cc
        6. Supervise riders younger than 16; ATVs are not toys.
        7. Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
        8. Take an ATV RiderCourse; to enroll call toll free 
           (800) 887-2887.

About SVIA

Since 1983, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America(R) (SVIA) has promoted the safe and responsible use of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) through rider training programs, public awareness campaigns, and state legislation. SVIA also serves as a resource for ATV research, statistics, and vehicle standards. SVIA, based in Irvine, California, is a not-for-profit trade association sponsored by AlphaSports, Arctic Cat, Bombardier, Bush Hog, Honda, John Deere, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. For membership information, call (949) 727-3727; for safety information or to enroll in an ATV RiderCourse(SM), call (800) 887-2887 or visit www.atvsafety.org.

About ASI

The All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute(R) (ASI), a not-for-profit division of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America(R) (SVIA), was formed in 1988 to implement an expanded national program of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety education and awareness. ASI's primary goal is to promote the safe and responsible use of ATVs, thereby reducing accidents and injuries that may result from improper ATV operation by the rider. For safety information or to enroll in an ATV RiderCourse(SM), call (800) 887-2887 or visit www.atvsafety.org.

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