CPSC Proposes Stability Standards for UTV / ROV / SxS-vehicles

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Oct. 29 voted 3-2 to move forward on a proposed rule to impose a mandatory product standard for Recreational Off-Road Vehicles (ROVs) also known as Side-by-Side Vehicles (SSV) or Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTV).  In its proposed rule titled: Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROVs), the CPSC proposed rules which would require ROVs to have:
  • Lateral stability and vehicle handling requirements that specify a minimum level of rollover resistance for ROVs and a requirement that ROVs exhibit sublimit understeer characteristics;
  • Occupant retention requirements that would limit the maximum speed of a ROV to no more than 15 mph unless driver and front passenger seatbelts are fastened, and
  • A passive barrier or structure to limit the ejection of a belted occupant in the event of a rollover.
The proposed rule is part of a process that was begun in 2009 out of concern over the volume of SSV injuries. As of April 5, 2013, CPSC staff knew of 550 reported SSV-related incidents that happened between Jan. 1, 2003, and April 5, 2013; there were 335 reported fatalities and 506 reported injuries related to those incidents. CPSC is relying, in part, on a 2009 repair program for Yamaha Rhino 450, 660, and 700 models to increase the vehicles’ lateral stability and change the handling.  Yamaha’s improvement program involved the addition of 50mm spacers on the vehicle’s rear wheels (to increase the track width), and the removal of the rear stabilizer bar (to induce understeer characteristics instead of oversteer). Following the change, CPSC cites a dramatic decrease in injuries and fatalities in the repaired Rhinos. “CPSC staff believes that a minimum requirement for rollover resistance of 0.70g threshold lateral acceleration, coupled with a requirement that a vehicle model’s rollover resistance is displayed on a hang tag at point of purchase, will increase the rollover resistance of the overall ROV market and will reduce the occurrence of ROV rollovers,” according to a staff report for the commission. “CPSC staff also believes a vehicle handling requirement for understeer will reduce the occurrence of rollovers caused by sudden increases in lateral acceleration associated with ROVs that oversteer. Prevention of ROV rollovers will reduce deaths and injuries associated with ROV rollover events.”  On a per-unit basis, CPSC estimates the total cost of the proposed rule would be $61 to $94 per vehicle. In opposition to the rule proposal, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and the Americans for Responsible Recreation Access (ARRA) are urging industry professional to push back against the proposal.  The organizations argue that if approved the proposal, “would limit the ability of ROV manufacturers to design vehicles to safely provide the level of performance that is expected by OHV enthusiasts,” the MIC continued. “Page 131 of the CPSC’s briefing package emphasizes the proposed rule’s fundamental weakness: ‘Although the Commission believes that the dynamic lateral stability and vehicle handling requirements will reduce the number of deaths and injuries involving ROVs, it is not possible to quantify this benefit because we do not have sufficient data to estimate the injury rates of models that already meet the requirements and models that do not meet the requirements. Thus we cannot estimate the potential effectiveness of the dynamic lateral stability and vehicle handling requirements in preventing injuries.'”   Veritech Engineering has specific specialty in the investigation, analysis and reconstruction of ROV, UTV and ATV related accidents.  Additionally, our Powersports expert, Mark Kittel, P.E., has industry experience in the product development and testing of ATV’s and UTV’s.

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