All-terrain vehicle fatalities
The Associated Press reported today that injuries and deaths associated with All-terrain vehicles have reached an all-time high and continue to trend upward.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 550 deaths associated with ATVs during 2006, and this number is based on incomplete reporting from hospitals and other sources. The actual number is likely much higher. There was at least one fatality in every state, and more than 100 of the deaths were suffered by children. The AP quoted the CPSC identifying 146,000 ATV-related injuries treated during the year. That is not a typo: 146,000 injuries treated in one calendar year. Twenty-five percent of these injuries were suffered by children.
Children are particularly susceptible to ATV injury because by weight, horsepower and ergonomic design, most ATVs are not appropriate for children to operate. For example, if an ATV overturns on a typical 12-year old, the child cannot lift the machine to extricate himself.
Under current law, manufacturers owe a theoretical duty to market only products that are reasonably safe for their intended use. We don't think that ATVs, as currently designed, meet this test--particularly if they are used by children. Unfortunately, aby all accounts, the CPSC is grossly under-funded and under-staffed and not likely to take any steps to render ATV sale and use more consumer friendly, and liability "reform" is cloaking product manufacturers with more and more protection from liability for unsafe products--particularly if the safety problem lies primarily with design or marketing.