American Motorcyclist Association urges ‘lead law’ exemption at Congressional hearing

In written comments submitted for a congressional hearing held on Feb. 17, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) asked lawmakers to exempt kid-sized off-highway vehicles (OHVs) from the “lead law” that effectively bans the sale of the vehicles at the end of the year.

In the statement sent to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade that held a hearing related to the lead law on Feb. 17, Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations, noted the law does more harm than good concerning child-sized motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). In addition to representing the AMA, Moreland also spoke for the AMA’s sister organization, the All-Terrain Vehicle Association (ATVA).

The subcommittee held the hearing to review the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, which is known as the lead law, as well as to review the resources of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which is the federal agency responsible for implementing the law.

The CPSIA bans the making, importing, distributing or selling of any product intended for children 12 and under that contains more than a specified amount of lead in any accessible part. It also requires all children’s products undergo periodic testing by independent laboratories approved by the CPSC.

The CPSC has delayed enforcing key portions of the law until after the end of the year. Unless the CPSIA is changed by then, the sale of child-sized motorcycles and ATVs will effectively be banned.

“While the Act was passed with laudable intent, it has created a well-documented safety hazard for children, a severe and unwarranted disruption to families who recreate together, and a deleterious effect on youth amateur racing,” Moreland wrote. “Additionally, the inclusion of youth-model off-highway vehicles (OHVs) in the Act has created an economic disaster for the youth-model motorcycle and ATV industry.

“Of greatest concern, however, are the unintended safety consequences for youth OHV riders,” he continued. “As you may know, the OHV community and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have worked extensively together to develop appropriate OHV size and operating guidelines for young riders. To suddenly eliminate the availability of all youth OHVs is counterproductive to all the work that the OHV community and the CPSC have done to promote youth-rider safety.

“The elimination of these vehicles because of an unsupported suspicion that they may pose a theoretical threat of a lead hazard effectively trades away a proven safety intervention for an unproven one,” he wrote.

“As you continue your deliberations on this important matter, we urge you and the members of your committee to support H.R. 412, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act of 2011, introduced by Rep. Denny Rehberg,” Moreland wrote. “This bill offers the most promising and viable legislative remedy available to permanently exclude youth-model motorcycles and ATVs from the perilous and unintended consequences of the CPSIA.”

Moreland encourages riders and parents concerned about the CPSIA to contact their federal lawmakers and urge them to support H.R. 412.

Rehberg (R-Mont.) said: “The Kids Just Want to Ride Act is the best way to clarify congressional intent and ensure that children have access to the youth-sized vehicles that will keep them safe. This issue is very important to outdoor enthusiasts and small business owners alike, and I am happy to be working with the American Motorcyclist Association again to ensure that kids have every opportunity to get out and ride.”

The AMA has been at the forefront of fighting the inclusion of child-sized motorcycles and ATVs in the law for more than two years. The association has participated in news events to focus media attention on the issue, lobbied on Capitol Hill, and organized campaigns to encourage riders and parents to contact their federal lawmakers and key decision-makers to exempt kids’ OHVs from the CPSIA. As a result, every single member of Congress, as well as members of the CPSC, have received powerful statements from AMA and ATVA members who want kids to be able to enjoy responsible motorized recreation.

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