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Off- Road Recreational Vehicles Come under Speculation from CPSC

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Off – Road Recreational Vehicles, ROV’s as they are known, may be loads of fun but the Consumer Product Safety Commission is not happy with their safety record. With more than 100 deaths and numerous serious injuries occurring since 2003 the CPSC has voted to write mandatory rules to regulate ROV’s.

These off-road recreational vehicles look a bit like a cross between a mini-jeep and a golf cart. They are designed to hold two people and drivers of 16 years or older. The vehicles have a roll-cage, but are otherwise open. The makers of these sporty machines insist that they are safe if they are used responsibly.

The roll-over safety issue is of a major concern though to CPSC. Major injuries involve crush fractures and even loss of limbs. Young children have been included in these injuries as well as the 116 deaths.

The ROv’s, also known as side-by-sides, came onto the market in the late 1990’s and have been rapidly gaining in popularity. It is estimated that around 140,000 of the vehicles were sold in the United States last year. Until now there have been no mandatory restrictions, such as speed limits, for ROV’s as there are for ATV’s. The ROV’s can reach speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour. The Commission states that more than several accidents have occurred though at relatively low speeds and on level ground.

Around 100,000 Rhino off-road vehicles were recalled by Yamaha Motor Corp USA last year for repair. The models were found to have been linked to 46 deaths over six years. Negotiated repairs included an anti-sway bar and the installation of rear wheel spacers. Yamaha also offered a repair program that included extra hand holds and the installation of half doors. The Yamaha Rhino models appear to have been at the heart of the CPSC’s decision to crack down on the side-by-side sport vehicles.

The most recent recall (announced in October) is for 3,900 vehicles made by Bad Boy Enterprises LLC, of Natchez, Miss., The Bad Boy Buggy Standard model off –road utility vehicles are said to have a problem with accelerating suddenly. There have been 32 reports of this acceleration and injuries have included a fractured toe, rotor cuff injury and sore muscles.

While the ROHVA (Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association) presented its own voluntary standards to the Consumer Product Safety Commission in December 2008, the commission has found those standards to be wanting. The October 2009 memo states: “Based on the continuing deaths and injuries involving ROVs and a review of the draft requirements currently proposed by the ROHVA, CPSC staff believes that the proposed voluntary standard will not adequately address the deaths and injuries associated with ROV rollovers and collisions. Additionally, there are many safety features or characteristics that can be incorporated on ROVs to make them more stable and safer to use.”

Rachel Weintraub, director of product safety and senior counsel for the Consumer Federation of America, says "This is an instance where the industry has not been responding quickly and effectively enough to the well-documented hazards caused by these products”

ROV’s may be fun, but the CPSC’s vote has effectively put the industry on notice.