A federal judge says he must decide whether to approve a flawed consent decree regulating all-terrain vehicles or do nothing to regulate the vehicles blamed for 900 deaths in five years.
"Is it best to move in the direction of doing what one can do to reduce it as opposed to doing nothing about it?" U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell said after a hearing on a proposed out-of-court settlement between the Consumer Product Safety Commission and five manufacturers.Opponents of the consent decree argued at Monday's hearing that the agreement between federal regulators and manufacturers is flawed because it doesn't provide for refunds to people who purchased the vehicles, popularly known as ATVs.
Lawyers for consumer groups and 32 states said the consent decree also fails to protect children from the hazards of the four-wheel machines, particularly smaller models marketed for children, which would still be sold.
"We don't believe these child-sized ATVs should be sold at all," said Massachusetts Attorney General James Shannon, who called ATVs "some of the most dangerous consumer products sold in this country."
The decree would ban future sales of three-wheel ATVs unless the manufacturers devised performance standards that would be approved by the CPSC. It would also require warning labels on four-wheel models.