An undercover government survey shows more than half of all-terrain vehicle dealers are at least partially violating an agreement with the Justice Department not to recommend adult-size ATVs for children younger than 16.
The study, released Monday by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, was criticized by a spokesman for American Honda Motor Co., one of the manufacturers involved in the 1988 consent agreement limiting ATV sales.
"This survey was based on undercover casual conversations with salesmen and did not involve a sales transaction," said Kirk Antonius, a spokesman for Honda in Los Angeles.
"We have a safeguard built into the sales process that requires the consumer to sign a document saying that he has seen and read all of the proper safety information and is aware of the age recommendations by the manufacturers."
Antonius also criticized the timing of the release of the survey, conducted in June.
"This is more than a five-month delay in reporting this," he said. "If they had given us this information five months ago, it would have helped us in talking to the dealers to be sure that their sales representatives are doing their best job.
Ken Giles, a spokesman for the commission, said the survey was conducted by a contractor and received by the commission about 10 days ago.
The commission said it based its conclusion on the undercover survey of 227 randomly selected ATV dealers.
Recommending use by children under 16 of adult-size ATVs--those with engines larger than 80 cubic centimeters--is contrary to a consent decree agreed to in 1988 by the commission, the Justice Department and five U.S. ATV distributors: American Honda Motor Co, Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A., American Suzuki Motor Corp., Yamaha Motor Corp. U.S.A. and Polaris Industries.
The decree requires ATV distributors to use their "best efforts" to assure that dealers do not sell adult-size ATVs for use by children under 16.