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CPSC to Regulate Recreational Off-Road Vehicles

Last week the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to write mandatory rules to regulate the four-wheel recreational vehicles known as recreational off-road vehicles (ROVs), according to the Associated Press. More than 100 ROV deaths have been reported since 2003, and riders have suffered hundreds of injuries, including some that required amputations.

ROVs, also known as side-by-sides or utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), are made for two or more passengers. They’re designed for drivers who are at least 16 years of age. They look a bit like powerful golf-carts with roll cages. The ROV industry has proposed voluntary regulations for ROVs, but the CPSC said that the voluntary regulations would not do enough to address the rollover risks associated with ROVs.

“This is an instance where the industry has not been responding quickly and effectively enough to the well-documented hazards caused by these products,” said Rachel Weintraub of the Consumer Federation of America, a consumer advocacy group.

However, it could takes months or even years to put the CPSC regulations into place. The commission will seek input from the ROV industry as well as consumer advocates when it develops the rules. In the meantime, be aware of the dangers associated with these vehicles, and never let children drive them. They’re much more dangerous than the average golf cart.

ROVs hit the market in the late 1990s. According to the CPSC, 116 people, including some young children, have died in ROV accidents. Over 150 injuries have been reported, and many more injuries have likely gone unreported. Injuries have included lost limbs and crushed limbs, hands, and feet. When one of these heavy vehicles tumbles over onto a passenger, it’s not a pretty sight.

The ROV industry argues that the vehicles are safe, and they blame the accidents on driver errors. The Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle association released the following statement: “We know the vehicles are safe when used responsibly. We must emphasize the important of consumers making the right choices when driving an ROV.”

Earlier this year, Yamaha recalled more than 100,000 Rhino ROVs for repairs. These vehicles had been implicated in 46 deaths over the past six years. In most cases, the fatal injured were not wearing their safety belts. However, many of the accidents were due to rollovers that occurred at relatively low speeds. In fact, I previously blogged about one such rollover caught on tape. See this video in this post: ATV and UTV Personal Injuries and Safety Issues.

ROVs can reach speed of more than 35 miles an hour, and they should never be driven by children. Over 100,000 ROVs were sold in the United States last year. Fortunately, the CPSC is finally doing something to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by these dangerous vehicles. But remember: It may take months or years for the rules to take effect. For now, it’s up to us to keep our kids (and adults) safe.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an ROV roller or in another defective product accident, contact an experienced Georgia personal injury lawyer to ask about your legal rights. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.