The government yesterday warned that children could be injured or killed because of major defects in an all-terrain vehicle produced in China.
One of George W. Bush’s many gifts to business, at the expense of the public, has been the disabling of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. People may be dying as a result.
714,500 Americans sustained injuries while riding ATVs between 2000 and 2005.
At least 18 people — five of them children — died in crashes involving all-terrain vehicles over the Memorial Day  weekend, and federal safety officials expect more deaths in coming months….
So far, the commission knows of 467 ATV-related deaths in 2005. Wolfson said commission staff members believe that number is much higher, closer to 700.
Nearly 137,000 people went to the hospital in 2005 for injuries involving ATVs, according to the commission. About a third of the injured were children.
The Wall Street Journal and other sources are carrying the story of a Chinese -made All-Terrain Vehicle which is defective and unsafe, and is being marketed for kids,
The Kazuma Meerkat 50 Youth All-Terrain Vehicle, imported by Kazuma Pacific Inc., of Stafford, Texas, has no front brakes, no parking brake and is missing a neutral indicator light.
Thousands of these things have been sold. The CPSC has asked the importer to voluntarily cooperate, but has met with a stonewall:
The commission said Kazuma Pacific refused to provide complete incident or injury information for any of its products, so the CPSC could not figure out how many children may have been injured.
Between December and May, the company “impeded CPSC’s efforts to protect the safety of children” by refusing to implement a plan to fix the ATV’s defects.
The company did not return telephone or e-mail requests for comment yesterday.
It has sold at least 2,700 Meerkat 50 ATVs and has said it will continue to do so.
Kazuma dealers and Web retailers nationwide have sold the vehicle since 2003 for $525 to $825.
Yet there seems to be nothing that can be done officially to ban it, because the Consumer Product Safety Commission continues to have a critical vacancy.
…ex-Chairman Hal Stratton, another Bush appointee, bolted the job with little warning on July 15 to join a law firm.
Bush waited so long to fill the post that the two remaining commissioners lost all regulatory powers on January 15.
In the CPSC’s 35-year history, only four times has it ever gone more than six months with only two commissioners. Three of those times were under the current administration.
On March 7, with a Democratic Congress in control, Bush made a bizarre nomination of a man who has made a career out of fighting consumer protection and workplace safety, a man Bush knew would never be confirmed:
[Michael] Baroody’s nomination has enraged consumer advocates and is expected to raise a fight in the Senate Commerce Committee where Bush’s nomination must be approved.
Baroody is the executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). NAM is one of the nation’s largest trade groups and it opposes aggressive product safety regulation.
Ann Brown, the CPSC’s chairman from 1994-2001, laughed in shock when ConsumerAffairs.Com informed her in an interview that Bush was expected to nominate a NAM executive.
Predictably, Baroody was not confirmed. Now, Bush can claim that the vacancy is the fault of the Democrats. Meanwhile, the number of fatalities from ATVs is climbing; though numbers are incomplete, deaths have approximately doubled since Bush took office.