Saturday, September 1, 2007

44,000 Kids are a Lot of Kids

September 2, 2007
The Testing Lab

Safety Agency Faces Scrutiny Amid Changes



WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 — In March 2005, the Consumer Product Safety Commission called together the nation’s top safety experts to confront an alarming statistic: 44,000 children riding all terrain vehicles were injured the previous year, nearly 150 of them fatally.
National associations of pediatricians, consumer advocates and emergency room doctors were urging the commission to ban sales of adult-size A.T.V.’s for use by children under 16 because the machines were too big and fast for young drivers to control. But when it came time to consider such a step, a staff member whose name did not appear on the meeting agenda unexpectedly weighed in.
“My own view is the situation is not necessarily deteriorating,” said John Gibson Mullan, the agency’s director of compliance and a former lawyer for the A.T.V. industry, according to a recording. The current system of warning labels and other voluntary safety standards was working, he said. “We would need to be very careful about making any changes.”
Robin L. Ingle, then the agency’s hazard statistician and A.T.V. injury expert, was dumbfounded. Her months of research did not support Mr. Mullan’s analysis. Yet she would not get to offer a rebuttal.
“He had hijacked the presentation,” Ms. Ingle said in an interview. “He was distorting the numbers in order to benefit industry and defeat the petition. It was almost like he still worked for them, not us.”
Under the Bush administration, which promised to ease what it viewed as costly rules that placed unnecessary burdens on businesses, industry-friendly officials have been installed at agencies that oversee the nation’s workplaces, food suppliers, environment and consumer goods.
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I keep looking for something good to come from this administration. There must be something.
It's such a bleak prospect, watching agency after agency waste money, cripple the environment and work against the interests of the American public.
I've lived during twelve presidencies--never one like this.

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