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By: Robert Janis

Specialty Vehicle Institute of America

Specialty Vehicle Institute of America Takes the Pulse of the ATV Community

How can I say with such confidence that:

  • 16.3 million Americans operate all-terrain vehicles
  • On average, ATVs are used three-fourths of the time for recreation and fun
  • The median age of an ATV owner is 37 years
  • More than 86 percent of ATV owners are male
  • The median annual household income of ATV owners is $52,800

I can say all of this because of the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA). The Irvine, California- based, non-profit organization is an information source on the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) industry. It provides information on ATV standards and promotes model state legislation on ATV riding and serves as a liaison with state and federal agencies concerning ATV training and ATV impact on the environment.

Formed in 1983, the SVIA’s mission is to promote the safety and responsible use of ATVs in the U.S.

Surveys and Working with Government and Other Groups

The SVIA gets its information through its support of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), which conducts motorcycle/ATV owner surveys. The related-business information it provides is due to its support of the Motorcycle Industry Council Retail Outlet Profile Survey. This is a survey periodically done by mail to ascertain the economic and employment profile of the U.S. ATV dealer network.

The group also works with a large assortment of national organizations on land access issues. The groups it cooperates with include The American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA), the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA), the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA), Tread Lightly!, and the United Four Wheel Drive Association. “We talk regularly with these groups and have met with them face-to-face three times during 2008 to discuss land use issues and to develop strategies,” said Kathy Van Kleeck, senior vice president of Government Relations for SVIA. “The organizations find that it is useful to periodically discuss and explore areas where we share a common interest. Recognizing that each organization has a separate mission in representing its distinct membership, we find that communicating with each other serves to strengthen advocacy efforts for OHV recreation.”

SVIA also provides funds through its OHV Organization Support Program for NOHVCC’s efforts to promote OHV recreation; Tread Lightly!; and other national, state and local OHV organizations and clubs.

It is also involved in influencing the drafting of legislation on the state and national level and closely monitors the development of regulations that affect the ATV community by federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS).

“We provide comments to state legislators and testify before legislative committees on issues impacting OHV recreation and safety,” said Van Kleeck. “We advocate state ATV safety legislation and state OHV programs to develop and maintain OHV trails and riding areas.”

SVIA on its own or in cooperation with others worked to enact ATV safety laws in many states. And it has also worked with rider groups to enact state OHV trails program laws where OHV registration and/or titling fees are used to fund development and maintenance of OHV trails and riding areas. Florida and Texas are just two states that serve as an example of the successful work SVIA has done to pass legislation on these issues.

SVIA works with Congressional staff on an on-going basis to provide information and input on issues affecting OHV recreation. “Independently and through our federal public lands advocacy arm, Americans for Responsible Recreational Access, we participate in Congressional committee and subcommittee hearings and work to develop legislative solutions to a variety of issues affecting access to federal public lands.”

Its work with the BLM and USFS involves land management issues. It has, for example, worked closely with the USFS on its OHV Travel Management Rule Implementation. “The rules require each national forest to designate and map routes for OHV use,” said Van Kleeck. “Once the process is completed, vehicle use will be allowed only on designated routes. SVIA has been involved in the rulemaking process since its inception and has met on an on-going basis with Forest Service officials to discuss the rule and how SVIA can work with the Forest Service to ensure its successful implementation.”

In addition, with NOHVCC SVIA has developed workshops to help Forest managers understand the needs of the OHV community, trail system development, and facilitate cooperation and involvement with the OHV community. There are also workshops to help OHV riders understand how they can get involved in the process in a constructive way. SVIA and MIC have funded more than 20 workshops.

Other federal agencies and departments that SVIA works with include the Federal Highway Administration, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Safety a Major Issue

The safe use of ATVs is a major issue for SVIA. The group formed the ATV Safety Institute to promote safety among the ATV community (see article on the ATV Safety Institute), and the organization advocates industry safety programs. The programs include:

  • Point of Sale Safety Information, which include warning labels, hang tags and owner’s manuals; safety videos; safety alerts which ATV manufacturers provide ATV buyers with information on safety issues at the point-of-purchase. These alerts include warnings on the safe and proper use of an ATV as well as age recommendations concerning the proper ATV children should ride.
  • Safety Courses which include nationwide, hands-on training, the ATV RiderCourse, offered free by SVIA member companies under the direction of the ATV Safety Institute and training courses for children ages 6 and older.
  • Educational Campaign which includes classroom safety materials, a national print advertising campaign; an interactive CD-ROM adventure for children called “ATV Rally;” American Honda “Stupid Hurts” Campaign, a safety awareness effort by American Honda; and ATV Hotline, a toll- free 24 hour ATV hotline that can be called for safety and training information including age recommendations for ATVs.
  • Dealer Directives which prohibit ATV dealers from selling adult-size ATVs for use by children under the age of 16 and annual random investigations of dealers to assure that the age recommendation directives are followed.

Special Reports

The SVIA has also done special reports. People who are interested can get a copy of the group’s Summer 2007 Special Report at its website at:

The report provides a definition of what an ATV is and information on ATV sizes, youth models, ATV market information and the SVIA model state ATV legislation.

SVIA is sponsored by Arctic Cat, BRP, Crossrunner, Honda, John Deere, Kawasaki, KTM, KYMCO, Polaris, Suzuki, Tomberlin and Yamaha.

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