Banning the sale of new all-terrain vehicles could prevent tens of thousands of injuries and save more than a hundred lives in the first three years, a government report says.

But that same report to the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends against imposing such a ban because its other possible effects are unknown.The economic costs of such a ban are "difficult if not impossible to measure accurately," but the savings of life and limb are not, according to the commission staff report released Tuesday.

"If a ban became effective in 1992, these benefits are estimated to result in a total of 24,000 injuries and 140 deaths prevented for the period 1992 through 1995," the report said.

That ban also could make people use other kinds of vehicles, such as dirt bikes and snowmobiles, driving up those death and injury rates, the report said. The result "could offset any reduction in ATV-related injuries and deaths."

The commission, which is not expected to make a decision until sometime next month, was considering a handful of options, including a ban on selling all new ATVs or forbidding their sale for use by children under age 16.

The industry agreed in 1988 to quit selling the three-wheeled models for 10 years and promised not to sell the four-wheeled models for use by young children.