According to The Consumer Product Safety Commission, there have been 555 ATV fatalities in 2006. Of those 555 deaths, 111 were in children under the age of sixteen. In the same year, there were 146,000 reported injuries of which just under 40,000 were children under sixteen. The CPSC estimates that these figures are low, as they expect to receive additional ATV accident reports.
The Yamaha Rhino was introduced in 2003 and despite the growing number of Yamaha Rhino ATV rollover accidents, Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA refuses to issue a recall. Even though there have been reports hundreds of injuries and even deaths, there has still yet to be a recall on this vehicle. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there’s something wrong with those numbers.
It wasn’t until 2006 that Rhino issued a letter to owners that warned the Rhino was prone to rollovers when taking sharp turns. However, the tone of the letter blamed the rollovers on the drivers and passengers of the vehicles. The warning that Yamaha provided in the letter was that passengers needed to use their seatbelts and keep their arms and legs inside of the vehicle. A lot of good that’ll do when the vehicle is actually rolling. The letter then advised recipients what to do if their Rhino ATV started to tip. Again, the insinuation is it must be an operator error. Interestingly enough, accidents while driving the Yamaha Rhino ATV have not decreased since the letter was distributed in 2006.
In 2007, Yamaha finally responded to the safety issues by offering free modifications, including adding handholds and doors on the vehicles in order to make them safer. As of February 2008, there has yet to be a recall issued by Yamaha or offers of refunds issued to Rhino owners. And the injuries and deaths continues. Again, here’s a perfect example of Corporate America refusing to fix a serious problem until it hits them where it hurts…in the pocketbook.
Here are some interesting tidbits:
-When I searched the Yamaha Motors web site, I could not find an option to order the 2008 Yamaha Rhino with doors.
-The only safety accessories I could find were arm guards and bash plates, which didn’t look like they’d be much help in protecting you during a roll.
-The safety warning does not mention a tendency to rollover at slow speeds or on smooth terrain.
-I could not find any notification on their web site regarding any of the rollover issues other than a brief mention to “Never turn at excessive speeds. Practice turning at slow speeds before attempting to turn at faster speeds. Do not attempt turns on steep inclines”.
-I couldn’t find a copy of the letter Yamaha Motors sent to owners in 2006 on their web site.
It’s taken numerous lawsuits filed against Yamaha Motors to take notice of this threat to public safety. Their apparent lack of seriousness regarding the dangerous and life-threatening rollover problems with their Rhino ATV, dating back to its launch in 2003 just reiterates that once again Corporate America chooses to put profit before public safety.