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Off-Road Vehicle Deaths Investigated

Posted on November 7, 2008

We blog all too frequently about children who are hurt or killed in off-highway vehicles or ATVs.

Now the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is looking into the design of a handful of brands associated with more than 30 fatalities. The Yamaha Motor Company’s Rhino is one of those brands.

The Wall Street Journal named Yamaha as one the focus of the deaths, though the company would not confirm that. Yamaha does not agree with the WSJ’s fatality tally.

An off-road vehicle is different from an ATV in that they are larger and have two side-by-side seats and a protective roll cage, which is not required of ATVs.

Besides the Rhino, there is the Polaris’s Razor, Honda Big Red, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Mule and Arctic Cat’s Prowler.

Yamaha has reportedly been having meetings with the CPSC sharing information about the Rhino. The company says the Rhino “is one of the safest, most-reliable vehicles in the category.

Polaris says it’s had no deaths involving the Razor models

Julie Vallese of the CPSC says “We need to study how they’re being used, how the injuries are happening, how behavior during use of the vehicles may be playing a role.”

A number of off-road vehicles have had recalls because of structural failures. The brands have been produced for about five years and are popular with hunters and off-road enthusiasts.

In Florida, kids as young as six can ride ATVs if they have a DOT-certified safety helmet.

Kids are reminded that ATVs are not toys and should not be treated as such. They are not allowed on public roads, streets or highways, however law enforcement can use them to enforce traffic laws and in getting to and from the beach.

ATVs or off-road vehicles are definitely not popular with citizens who see the destruction the vehicles leave behind to pristine beach grasses and forests, ancient ruins and desert landscapes, not to mention the forest critters crushed under the wheels or adversely affected by the sounds.

And many campers trying to enjoy the peace and quiet, find them offensive as well.

Deer hunters in Florida riding ATVs or off-road vehicles are advised to wear orange, since deer hunting season is December and January. #