Should Government Determine the Designs of Future ATVs?

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I rarely voice any opinion on governmental issues.

But as an avid recreational user and professional tester of ATVs, specifically side-by-sides, this newest push by our Government to tell ATV manufacturers how they should design them is of great concern. 

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants to dictate the handling and performance limitations of the machines we buy and drive.

Every year the OHV manufacturers of side-by-sides improve occupant safety and already work with the CPSC. But apparently Big Brother wants to sit down and do the designing themselves. 

Despite the willingness of off-road manufacturers, along with the Recreation Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA), to work in unison with the CPSC to develop ongoing safety improvements for all off-highway vehicles (OHV), the CPSC appears determined to mandate handling and performance capabilities, and require excessive and potentially unsafe restraint systems for future ROVs. 

If not halted, the mandate will unnecessarily limit design freedom in the off-road industry and negatively impact off-road customers.

The proposed CPSC “rule” would require the manufacturers to make arbitrary design changes to all future side-by-side vehicles. 

The proposed changes could lead to future off-road vehicles with reduced steering response, reduction in ground clearance, and more restrictive driver and passenger restraint and seatbelt systems.

These proposed design restrictions by the CPSC should not be taken lightly. In fact, it was this very commission that proposed a ban on all youth ATVs just a few years ago due to lead content in metal parts.

Now it’s happening again, and off-road, side-by-side vehicles (ROVs) are the new target.

If such government intervention bothers you as much as it does me, all off-road enthusiasts need to reach out to Congress, and voice their opposition. 

As a unified community, we can help protect the OHV manufacturers protect their right to design and build machines for us to ride, be that for work or pleasure.  

More information about the proposed CPSC mandate and how to speak out can be found at 

If you don’t have a lot of time, but still want to be heard, copy and paste this into the form: 

My family and I are off-road vehicle enthusiasts and we own a [insert brand] side-by-side. We are very happy with the safety and performance

of recreational off-highway vehicle (ROV). We are concerned that CPSC’s proposed ROV standards will cause vehicle design to change, compromising performance and creating unintended consequences, while not increasing safety.

I urge CPSC to reconsider moving forward on a mandatory standard for ROVs.

The industry’s updated voluntary standard (ANSI/ROHVA 1-2014) was developed following several years of discussions with the CPSC staff. As of today, CPSC has not fully or fairly considered the new ANSI/ROHVA 1-2014 Standard. Dismissing decades of real-world off-road expertise should not be allowed. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Editor’s Note: Bruce Smith is a Senior Editor at Randall-Reilly

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