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 Lead Law Threatens ATV, Motorcycle Industries

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Joined : 2008-01-15
Posts : 10981
Age : 54
Location : Knoxville, TN

PostSubject: Lead Law Threatens ATV, Motorcycle Industries   Fri May 08, 2009 12:56 pm

By: Robert Janis

Lead Law Threatens ATV, Motorcycle Industries

Some times, with the best of intentions, the Congress writes a bad law. A perfect example of this is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Passed in 2008, the act was in response to children getting sick or dying as a result of interacting with toys that have lead.

The law addressed the problem but then went beyond the boundaries it needed to set and now the ATV and motorcycle industry is suffering through some terrible consequences. In short, the law has made it illegal to sell youth model ATVs and motorcycles because of the lead content in those products.

“The law sets very strict limits on the amount of lead in children’s products,” explained Paul Vitrano, general counsel of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and executive vice president and general counsel of Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA). “In the law, children’s products are defined as any product that is primarily intended for anyone who is 12 years-old or younger. As a result, it includes youth model ATVs and motorcycles as well as parts and accessories for those vehicles. Because of this provision in the law, youth ATVs and motorcycles cannot be sold because they contain lead in excess of the limits.”

Vitrano pointed out that parts for ATVs and motorcycles are made of steel, aluminum, and copper alloys and these metals contain small amounts of lead for which there are no good substitutes. The lead enhances the machine ability of the metals, prevents corrosion and enhances the durability of the components used in ATVs and motorcycles.

And Vitrano added that parts and accessories for ATVs and motorcycles are manufactured worldwide of recycled products that contain lead. “And it is difficult if not impossible to control the level of lead that appears in recycled materials salvaged from scrap,” said Vitrano.

So, ATV and motorcycle dealers are not supposed to sell youth model vehicles, but because of this, ATV and motorcycle models meant to be used by adults are now being bought and used by children. “Kids are getting adult ATVs, and we are very concerned about this,” said Vitrano. “It is one of our main arguments that ATVs and motorcycles should be exempt from the law. The law trades a theoretic lead risk for a real risk of kids riding adult size ATVs and motorcycles which everyone agrees is a threat to kids’ safety.”

The law allows the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to make exemptions but the independent agency interprets the law very strictly and says that its “hands are tied” as far as exempting ATVs and motorcycles. “We submitted to CPSC toxicology reports and other scientific evidence that demonstrate that the hand-to-mouth contact with ATV and motorcycle metal parts pose no risk to kids ,but CPSC has refused to give us an exemption,” said Vitrano.

It is said that ATV and motorcycle dealers now have an estimated $100 million worth of product in inventory that they are not allowed to sell. Also, MIC has projected that the annual lost economic value in the retail marketplace because these units are banned could be as much as $1 billion. “That includes unit sales, parts sales and servicing, accessories sales, dealer payroll, and more,” said Vitrano.

Must Change the Law
So the only real remedy to the problem is to change the law. “What is necessary is legislation that will exempt ATVs and motorcycles from the lead provisions,” said Vitrano.
Currently, there are two bills in Congress that address the issue--HR 1587 in the House of Representatives and S608 in the Senate. These bills would provide a categorical exemption for ATVs and motorcycles. Another legislative approach would be to change the standards under which exclusion requests are evaluated and give the CPSC the flexibility it needs to exempt these products.

Groups associated with ATVs and motorcycles including the Motorcycle Industry Council, the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, the American Motorcyclists Association, other user organizations and racing interests are working together to get new legislation.
According to Vitrano, there has been some progress. The House bill now has 36 sponsors and the Senate bill has two. Both bills have been referred to committee. However, the chairmen of the committees have not scheduled hearings, and it is not known when such hearings will take place. “The leadership of the committees is not interested in moving forward until a new chairman of the CPSC has been installed,” said Vitrano.

Raptor 90
So now things are at a standstill and the crisis continues to grow in the ATV and motorcycle industry. Vitrano noted that if there was support from the Congress, the process of getting a new law could take only weeks or months. However, because of the standstill, the legislation is now lingering and could be in that state for a long time.

Call to Action
People involved in ATV and motorcycle recreation, racing, sales, and manufacturing are encouraged to get involved and help lobby Congress to get something done and get it done quickly. A special website has been created that offers all sorts of information and materials as well as news concerning the issue to assist in the lobbying effort. Concerned ATVers and motorcyclists can log on to:

“We encourage everyone to go to to become informed and to use the resources available on the site to get their voices heard,” concluded Vitrano.

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