Latest CPSC Action Simply Is Not The Answer


Two-Year Stay of Enforcement Doesn’t Solve Problem

Congress Should Fix Poorly-Written CPSIA Law


Joe Delmont

The CPSC’s recent promise not to enforce for two years a legal ban on the sale of kid’s ATVs, dirt bikes and snowmobiles and related parts, garments and accessories just doesn’t cut it. I’m sorry, but the move is woefully inadequate.

The vote Friday by commissioners Nancy Nord and Thomas Moore is simply the latest step in this silly dance between Congress and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The awkward two-step is called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that was passed last year.

The dreadful legislative effort bans the sale of toys designed for children ages 12 younger that fail to meet several safety standards. The lead limit is 600 parts per million in parts that are accessible to children. The ban became effective Feb. 10, 2009.

Congress says the law gives the CPSC authority to grant exclusions where appropriate— in the case of brake cables, for example. The CPSC responds by calling the law poorly written, and says it is unenforceable.

Retailers and manufacturers from many industries are caught in the middle.

Today, the situation is in a shambles. Some powersports manufacturers are selling products that have been modified or reclassified for youngsters aged12 and over or 13 and older. Some dealers are simply selling products that are banned. No one appears to be enforcing the law recently, even though state attorneys general have the authority to do so.

Acting CPSC Chair Nancy Nord, in voting for the enforcement stay, noted that it’s better to temporarily halt enforcement of the ban rather than have children ride large ATVs and motorcycles. “We can not allow the rigid exclusion provisions of the law to somehow put children at greater risk of injury or death,” she wrote in a statement accompanying her vote. “Since the law does not allow us to exclude these products, our only option is the stay of enforcement which will now go into effect for a limited period of time.”

Commissioner Moore wrote: “… our staff scientists do believe that the amount of lead absorbed, while not zero, would likely be small for most of the children riding these vehicles. We have to balance that risk to some children against the known causes of death and serious injury that every child would face who rides an adult vehicle or a vehicle that might be prone to failure.”

The stay, Moore said, will give the powesports industry time to bring vehicles into compliance with the new lead standard. “The industry has a duty to make their vehicles as safe as possible in every respect and we expect them to take the opportunity granted them to do that.”

Industry Response

Both the MIC (Motorcycle Industry Council) and the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) have urged Congress to rewrite the CPSIA.

In a statement prepared in response to the CPSC’s action, the MIC said, “However, although the Commissioners’ intentions are laudable, it is clear that the stay of enforcement as drafted is a temporary stop-gap measure with conditions largely unrelated to safety. It does not and cannot end the ban on these vehicles. Due to the highly restrictive language of the CPSIA and the fact that the CPSC is not the only agency responsible for enforcing the law, this stay of enforcement is simply inadequate in legal terms and leaves the industry vulnerable to lawsuits and actions by federal and state agencies.”

MIC and its sister organization, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) wants Congress to end the ban of youth model ATVs and motorcycles “once and for” all by amending the CPSIA.

“Youth-model motorcycles and ATVs should be exempt from the law,” says AMA’s Ed Moreland, “and Congress needs to act to make that happen. Hopefully, this stay will give Congress the time it needs to fix the law.”

I spoke last week with Paul Vitrano, the MIC’s top person on this project, and he made two telling points:

  1. Every business has to make its own decision on whether to sell. Everyone needs to know that this doesn’t solve the problem. (The stay) doesn’t change the law.
  2. It’s much more complicated than simply issuing a stay of enforcement. The vote doesn’t address specific provisions of the CPSIA such as those enforced by Customs and Border Patrol officials.

“The reality,” says Vitrano, “is that there are many (in Congress) who are still looking to the CPSC to try to solve this problem, and they’re waiting to see how they will come out before they make their next move.” The MIC continues to work with Congress, he said, in an effort to get changes made.

For more information and additional background on the CPSIA situation, visit the MIC’s stoptheban website.

It’s now time for people such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and others who were instrumental in writing the CPSIA to sit down and make the necessary changes that will protect our children without destroying our businesses. JD

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2 Responses to “Latest CPSC Action Simply Is Not The Answer”

  1. Bill Wallace Says:

    Thanks for the post. I was struck by this statement:

    ….the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) wants Congress to end the ban of youth model ATVs and motorcycles “once and for” all by amending the CPSIA….

    There are some that say the SVIA was one of the original lobbyists FOR the CPSIA. What do you make of this?

    Whatever the case, I sure hope the new CPSC leadership can lead us all out of this crazy situation.

  2. Randy W. Says:

    Has any thought been given to Lithium battery conversions? I know it would increase $$$$ but…Would that bring the lead level down enough? What about removing the starting system (kick start by default) and then offer a “starter kit”. There are always loop holes to be found in STUPID laws.

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