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Changing course on ATVs, consumer safety chief considers more government restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Responding to rising injuries and deaths of children riding all-terrain vehicles, a top regulator has reversed course and ordered his staff to consider whether a tougher government approach is needed to boost safety.

Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Hal Stratton sent a memo to his staff late Wednesday ordering a review. He previously has expressed opposition to more federal regulation, instead supporting voluntary industry standards and more rider education.

Citing the increase in injuries and deaths, he asked his staff to study whether those voluntary standards are adequate.

``This memo orders a full top-to-bottom review of any and all regulations that could be done to really make a difference in reducing the number of injuries and deaths,'' agency spokesman Leonardo Alcivar. ``Everything is on the table.''

The commission is currently weighing a 2002 petition filed by doctors and consumer groups to ban sales of adult-size ATVs intended for children under 16. Stratton previously has said a ban would not mean fewer accidents, noting that most accidents are due to improper behavior such as riding on paved roads or not wearing protective gear.

Among the areas Stratton ordered reviewed are whether pre-purchase training and certification should be required, if manufacturers should develop an ATV model suitable for 14-year-olds and whether ATV sales outlets should provide child injury data at the time of purchase.
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