Youth-model motorcycle lead ban fight continues

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is asking supporters of off-highway motorcycle or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riding to contact their state attorney general and ask that it follow the lead of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to help protect children by staying enforcement of the youth-model motorcycle and ATV ban in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

The AMA holds that this law, if enforced by state attorneys general, may force children to ride full-size motorcycles and ATVs — which can be too large for them to handle safely — if youth models aren’t available. Nancy Nord, acting chairwoman of the CPSC, shares that concern.

"(The) application of the lead-content mandates of the CPSIA to the products made by the petitioners may have the perverse effect of actually endangering children by forcing youth-sized vehicles off the market and resulting in children riding the far more dangerous adult-sized ATVs," Nord said in a statement issued on April 3.

The CPSC voted on May 4 to delay enforcement of the CPSIA with respect to youth-model motorcycles and ATVs. The stay of enforcement extends through May 1, 2011.

Nord has said that she hopes state attorneys general, who also enforce consumer protection laws, will follow the CPSC action and use restraint because, according to Nord, "enforcement discretion is an important tool that is needed to reach thoughtful and effective outcomes that enhance consumer safety."

To get clarification on the issue, Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations, on May 5 wrote a letter to James McPherson, executive director of the National Association of Attorneys General, asking whether state attorneys general would enforce the law in light of Nord’s comments.

In a response dated May 8, Dennis Cuevas, project director and counsel at the National Association of Attorneys General, told Moreland that the association hasn’t taken a position on enforcement of the lead law. Cuevas wrote that the attorney general of each state would need to be contacted to learn their positions.

"We need to know the positions of the state attorneys general nationwide," Moreland said. "We also need to let them know the importance of family motorized recreation, and that whatever minute amounts of lead are in motorcycle and ATV parts pose no hazard to children.

"The state attorneys general also need to understand that enforcing this law could be very dangerous for children because it could force them to ride machines that are too large and powerful for them," Moreland said.

The CPSIA was designed to protect children from lead in toys that might easily end up in children’s mouths. But the law was written so broadly that it also impacted children’s books, clothes, bicycles, motorcycles and ATVs.

As a result, the CPSIA — which took effect in February — stopped the sale of dirt bikes and ATVs designed for children age 12 and under. Under the law, all youth products containing lead must have less than 600 parts per million by weight. The CPSC has interpreted the law to apply to various components of youth-model motorcycles and ATVs, including the engine, brakes, suspension, battery and other mechanical parts. Even though the lead levels in these parts are small, they are still above the minimum threshold.

The easiest way to contact a state attorney general is to go to the "Rights" section of the AMA website at, and then click on the "Issues & Legislation" button. From there, the name and address of a state attorney general can be found so that a letter can be sent asking whether the attorney general’s office plans to follow the direction of the CPSC. To send a pre-written e-mail that is on the site, just click here:


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