By: Motorhead Mark Lester
In case you haven’t been keeping up to date on issues in the powersports biz, this winter has seen a tsunami of stupidity coming from overactive safetyniks.
Last January, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) decided to enforce rules regulating the lead content in children’s toys. Sounds harmless, right? The CPSC took a flying leap of faith drawing a line through doll houses and radio controlled dump trucks right into kids size ATVs, dirt bikes and snowmobiles.
What ensued was a terrific outcry from all corners of the powersports industry when the CPSC claimed it would halt sales of children’s motorized products as a result of their “unsafe” lead content. Well, duh!
Who would disagree there’s not lead in the lead acid battery present in every ATV? The bale ends in brake, throttle and clutch cables are made from lead. No debate.
What’s positively stupid, and points to a much more intriguing conspiracy, is why, all of a sudden, the CPSC became obsessed about kids eating their ATVs, dirt bikes and snowmobiles.
In my years of training two sons to safely operate miniature ATVs I never once had to warn Luke or AJ to stop eating them. Not once. I would like to hear from any readers who have encountered their daughter or son chewing on their quad. I just don’t think it’s been a big problem. Honestly, there’s more substantial issues surrounding the safety of kids and ATVs than lead content.
That’s where I suspect this silliness may ultimately have begun. The overwhelming majority of powersports retailers across North America are deeply engaged in a well structured and disciplined program requiring each dealer to go through a complete checklist of responsibilities and potential dangers when a buyer takes delivery of a new kid sized ATV.
Some OEM’s even provide helmets with the purchase of their brand while the purchase regimen makes sure the buyer does, in fact, own a helmet for the child to wear.
Admittedly, there are some gaps in this program but they exist mainly with the sale of off-shore branded kids ATVs through retailers not primarily engaged in the powersports industry. These situations are not the norm but do exist and are of concern to the OEMs and dealers who responsibly retail powersport products for children.
Lets get back to the proposed ban. Reading newslines and quotes from the CPSC I picked up shreds of an undercurrent relating to its dislike for kids powersport products in general. Although this is not literally stated in anything I’ve read, the undercurrent might sound like this: “Okay, we know lead isn’t really a problem but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect kids from these vehicles. We don’t like kids operating powersport vehicles so we’re gonna stop them from buying them one way or another”. Cough.
Thankfully, the proposed ban has been stayed, in the short term. The sale of these powersport products goes on. However, I think it’s naïve to believe the CPSC is done. Thanks must be extended to all those in the industry who have spent substantial time and money exposing and fighting this issue. Their hard work ultimately resulted in the CPSC backing off, for now.
Remember this: The price of freedom is and always has been, vigilance. The freedom to purchase a safe powersport vehicle for your child has been assumed a right. Obviously, there are people in powerful places who don’t agree with us. Clearly, if you own or are going to purchase a kid sized powersport product you need to be incredibly vigilant about training your child in the safe operation of the vehicle and never, ever allow your youngster to operate it unsupervised.
Maybe what’s happened here will force those few retailers who are not training buyers to sit up and pay attention. You never know how good you’ve got it until you lose it.
As this issue is very much in motion and new info is coming available weekly, we promise to keep you updated in the next issue of All-Terrain Vehicle Magazine.