Meet the Kazuma Meerkat 50 Youth All-Terrain Vehicle. It has no front brakes, no parking brake and can be started in gear. It is meant for 6 to 11 year-olds. Why isn’t it being recalled?
Because the company that makes the Meerkat isn’t willing to cooperate, and the CPSC has no power to involuntarily recall unsafe products. Why not?
The CPSC has been operating without a quorum ever since last July when former chairman Hal Stratton left. In January, the agency’s powers were limited until the vacancy is filled. President Bush tried to fill it… with Michael Baroody, a lobbyist for the National Manufacturer’s Association. This nomination was somewhat like asking a former PETA lobbyist to run KFC, but less tasty.
Baroody withdrew his nomination after intense opposition from consumer groups and, ahem, blogs, but another nomination has yet to be made. From Consumer Reports blog:
This week, the CPSC issued a press release saying the Texas-based manufacturer “has impeded CPSC’s efforts to protect the safety of children, by refusing to implement a corrective action plan for this ATV.”
Fortunately, although the agency can’t issue a recall, the lack of quorum has not kept the CPSC from publicly disclosing its concerns. In fact, the agency put out an unusually strong warning about the ATV model, saying “children are at risk of injury or death due to multiple safety defects with this off-road vehicle.” The agency added that “the risk with these ATVs is severe because these vehicles are intended for children. In many cases, youth riders are just learning how to operate an ATV and may not have the experience necessary to help them avoid hazards associated with this product’s defects.”
The CPSC’s ATV non-recall: A dangerous precedent for a hamstrung agency [Consumer Reports]