CPSIA Update: No Dirt Bikes, No Trail Bikes, No Small ATVs

By February 5, 2009General, Regulations

No doubt there supporters of Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act who will welcome it killing off motorcyle products for kids, but that’s not really what Congress voted to do, is it?

Intended consequence or not, that’s the end result of the CPSIA, as well reported at the New York Times “Wheels Blog” today. Excerpts:

Manufacturers and dealers are growing a bit frantic over the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which would effectively ban the sales of small motorcycles and off-road vehicles intended for children under 12 years old beginning next week.


After the commission announced its one-year stay on Friday, Honda issued an advisory to dealers that certain models would have to be removed from showroom floors. The models Honda cited were its entry-level trail bikes (the CRF 50F, CRF 70F and CRF 80F) and its small all-terrain vehicle, the TRX 90.

Joel Metter, general manager of New York Motorcycle, which sells Kawasaki and Yamaha vehicles that would be affected by the ban, said that he expected that an agreement on the delay would be reached. Manufacturers have offered to absorb the flooring cost of affected vehicles, Mr. Metter said, meaning that dealers would not be required to make the normal monthly interest payments to the manufacturers on vehicles that had to be pulled from the sales floor.

An industry newsletter, Dealernews, estimated the value of affected motorcycles and other vehicles at $50 million.

Just posted at the House Energy and Commerce website is a letter to CPSC Commissioners Nancy Nord and Thomas Moore from the relevant committee chairmen (House and Senate) that seems mostly a matter of trying to pin the blame back on the CPSC for a bad law. If we remember our civics, it’s Congress that writes the laws, isn’t it? Excerpt from the letter from Rep. Henry Waxman, Rep. Bobby Rush, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Sen. Mark Pryor:

Late on Friday, January 30, 2009, the Commission issued a one-year stay of enforcement of certain testing and certification requirements under the CPSIA. As we have stated, the concerns raised with implementation of the CPSIA are real and legitimate. This lengthy stay is unfortunate and we would have preferred to see the Commission provide more targeted relief.

But we also understand that there is need for action. The stay appropriately does not affect the lead and phthalate limits in the law, which everyone agrees are critical to protect children. Now the Commission can and should take further action before the February 10,2009, deadline to (1) establish a clear timeline for its decisionmaking in the coming year, spelling out what the Commission will need to accomplish in order to fully implement the law and (2) address continued confusion in the marketplace. Without such actions in the next few days, this stay of enforcement may serve only to delay the safety accomplishments of the law without providing practical guidance to those who need it the most.

Actually, no, not everyone agrees the lead and phthalate limits are critical to protect children. There are those who regard them as excessive and unnecessary. They are the law, however.

In any case, the demands and finger pointing don’t really do anything to help the motorcycle manufacturers, or retailers, or consumers, or the people who make soft toys at home, or the thrift stores that sell products children might use, or the clothing industry, or anyone, really. Although we suspect there are a lawyers out there who will swim quite happily through the seas of confusion.

As previously noted, the NAM and members of the CPSC Coalition have petitioned the commission urging a delay in the effective date of the lead content limits in Section 101 of the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. A copy of that petition is here.

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