Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Hal Stratton sent a memo to his staff late Wednesday ordering a review. He previously had opposed 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 said Thursday. "Everything is on the table."
The move surprised supporters of a petition filed in 2002 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.
A February CPSC staff report reflected that view by advising against a ban. The report argued that restricting sales would not necessarily keep children off larger ATVs, since the CPSC cannot control what riders and parents ultimately do with their four-wheelers.
Sue DeLoretto-Rabe, whose 10-year-old son Kyle died in May 2002 after the ATV he was riding flipped on top of him, questioned the chairman's timing.