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Why Are 3-Wheeler ATVs Illegal? What You Need to Know

In the late 70s and 80s, there were 3-Wheelers ATVs in the market that were really popular among off-roaders. However, those 3 wheeler ATVs are considered illegal now. Let’s see: why are 3-wheelers ATVs illegal?

After their release in the market, the 3-wheeler ATVs gained a bad reputation. Many cases of deaths and accidents took place. People using such vehicles complained about the lack of specific safety features. So, the 3-wheeled ATVs got banned in the market.

The three-wheeler ATVs are not a new kind of ATV; they are just a version of four-wheelers having three wheels and lacking a rear differential having a solid rear axle. The children primarily used the three-wheelers, and their sales in the market created complaints regarding the operating components.

When and Why Were the Three-Wheelers Banned? 

The three-wheelers were made illegal for purchase and sale in the United States in 1988. The ban was implemented immediately when dozens of reports stated related to deaths and accidents through three-wheelers. This gave a bad reputation to the vehicle, especially when the children were getting hurt by their usage.

The three-wheeled ATVs were considered vehicles that fulfill all the safety standards for usage. They were marked as the completed vehicles providing the primary utility and simple design. Still, in the end, these vehicles led to many accidents, which caused their immediate ban on the market.

Initially, these vehicles provided fun rides, but they lacked the basic safety standards. It included the lack of suspension, small size, and no solid axle. Such careless and over-simplified design resulted in producing a dangerous vehicle that acted as a true killer in the market.
The injuries were mostly reported from the children as compared to adults. The size three-wheelers accommodated the children and were smaller in size than the large quads and ATVs. This led to increased sales of this vehicle, irrespective of the features.

The size of the three-wheelers was appealing to the people at first glimpse, and they wondered about this vehicle as an appealing one for their kids to provide them an opportunity for outdoor pleasure. This opportunity ended in providing disastrous results.

Factors That Make 3-Wheeled ATVs Dangerous:

  1. The deceiving size of vehicles
  2. Increased number of injuries
  3. Other associated factors

1. The Deceiving Size of Vehicles:

The deceiving size of three-wheeled ATVs is one of the main factors that has made them a dangerous vehicle. The wheel distribution in these vehicles is comprised of two wheels in the back area and one wheel in the front region.

Three-wheelers were available at reasonable prices, having a single seat and massive tires. ATVs available now are not available at such low prices, and there is a wide range of choices in their astonishing size.

Manufacturers wanted to introduce a versatile product in the market to be used all around the year. People used to prefer snowmobiles in the winter season, but people were hesitant to purchase this vehicle as they were confined to only a specific season. Three-wheelers were appealing due to their size and price range, but the size factor was deceiving.

2. Increased Number of Injuries:

The three-wheelers gave out many death injuries after extensive usage in the market. The drivers were more prone to lose their traction and control, and the risks of injuries increased.

There were almost 10,000 deaths reported in the era 1982-2009 due to the three-wheelers, which ruined their usage.

Three-wheelers were named a murder machine and a killing tricycle that was unsafe for use. The New York Times article blamed three-wheelers for about 1000 deaths in 1983-1988, and they were eventually declared vehicles to be banned immediately. The All-terrain vehicle safety institute worked to ensure the manufacturing of new vehicles had all the safety standards in the same year.

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3. Other Associated Factors:

Other than the deceiving size issue and injuries matter, some other associated factors contributed to the ban of three-wheelers. ATV vehicles hold the capacity to pass through any terrain, especially the rural areas. But the three-wheelers were seen to damage the pathways of snowmobiles and other conversational sites, which led to their ban.

The young riders who used the three-wheelers as their off-roading vehicle was poorly injured, after which four-wheeled vehicles were introduced in the market. Particular guidelines and a set of restrictions were declared for these vehicles.

Young riders under the age of 16 were not allowed to operate these ATVs to avoid the risk of injuries. With preventive measures, people older than this age range were allowed to enjoy their ATVs in their nearby surroundings.

Ban of selling

Manufacturers were asked to stop selling the new models of three-wheel ATVs and were asked to repurchase them from the unsold stock.

Promotion of 4-wheelers

The manufacturers and dealers were asked to promote and sell the four-wheel-sized ATVs having engines of more than 90cc.

Promotion of youth-size ATVs

The youth-sized ATVs were promoted and sold out. These were the four-wheeled vehicles having their engines between 70 and 90cc and were recommended for riders older than 12 years of age.

Free training

The ATV purchasers and their families were provided the facility of free training in a vehicle riding before their purchase to avoid any accident or injury

Public awareness campaign

A public awareness campaign was conducted nationwide in which the safety standards and precautionary measures regarding driving ATVs were discussed. The advertisements also discussed the guidelines for promotional materials

Specified labels

The manufacturers were warned for including specific labels on their manuals regarding vehicles. This led to the development of a voluntary ATV industry to meet the specified standards.

The Reported Problems in 3-Wheeler ATVs:

These all problems mentioned above made the driver move their all weight according to the bike’s center of gravity to the inside region during each turn. There was a specific set of skills required for riding these vehicles that were not possible in the kid’s case.

Due to their size, the people purchasing these vehicles considered them useless and small and preferred to purchase them for their children. These looked like tricycles and were made to protect the children from falling off the bicycles, but these vehicles ended up more dangerous than the bicycles.

After a press release, the government sued the manufacturers to stop manufacturing these vehicles, and they were banned in 1988 due to increased cases of injuries and death. People still preferred to purchase them as it was not illegal for their use. Manufacturers could not continue selling them in the market and blamed people because they didn't act safely during their rides.

A consent decree was made effective for ten years, and the manufacturers were asked to implement the following points during their selling and manufacturing of three-wheeler:

History of 3-Wheel ATVs:

  • The three-wheel ATVs were introduced in the United States of America in 1970, and they quickly became popular due to their specs and features. The three-wheeler ATVs were used for stunts and other scenes in various Hollywood films and episodes.
  • The size of these three-wheelers was considered small compared to the other vehicles, which was one of the main reasons behind their popularity. These ATVs became popular among all age groups, including children and teenagers.
  • There was a contrast between these three-wheelers and cars, so people required some time to get used to this vehicle. The throttle steering technique was discussed, ensuring that drivers should learn this technique. This technique helped to interrupt the resistance using back tires and throttle.
  • These ATVs included many faults, although youngsters believed that they could easily reach the handlebars, which is a terrific ride and ATV for them. This ATV was unstable, and it was difficult to handle it due to poor suspension.
  • A significant flaw in its maneuverability created hindrances while making turns. The solid axle of this ATV was not used, which increased the turning over. The smaller size of ATV leads to mishaps, especially in children’s cases. They could not handle them quickly, and chances of flipping and crushing were increased more when children attempted to use this vehicle.

Are 3 Wheel ATVs Still Available in The Market? 

Despite their ban in the market, these vehicles can still be seen as Honda models and other by other manufacturers in the market. These vehicles were banned in 1988, but if you are a great collector of such vehicles, we recommend not going with them and avoiding giving them as a gift to your children.

These vehicles might look fun initially, but all the fun vanishes when they are crushed in an accident. This was one of the main reasons these vehicles were banned and dangerous for daily use.

3-Wheeled Death Machines:

The three-wheel vehicles and four-wheel ATVs were in full swing in the 1980s and were produced by Japanese companies and marketed in the United States. The marketing mainly targeted small children, and their small size, three-wheeler ATVs were standard for children. The articles from 1987 explained the cause behind their ban:

The three-wheeler ATVs claimed the death of 644 Americans and more than two lac injuries in the past five years. It was reported By the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which further explained that fifty percent of the sufferers were kids more minor than the age of 16. So, immediate action was taken to get these ATVs banned when the value of injuries reached five lac.

The three-wheelers were famous, so they were criticized a lot due to such reports. Reports claimed that these ATVs lack genuine mechanical shock absorbers, and the vehicle relies on the oversized tires associated with them for handling the bumpy terrain. The solid rear axle in these three-wheelers hinders handling the vehicle, and there was no differential between the two rear wheels.

Also Read:

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Why did the company stop manufacturing 3-wheeler ATVs?

The federal government banned the manufacture and sale of the three-wheeled ATVs in 1988. The news reported the wave of injuries and deaths due to the three-wheel vehicles, so the industry decided to convert the vehicle into four-wheelers.

Are the three-wheel vehicles considered legal in the US?

The usage of three-wheelers reported accidents and deaths, so the federal government declared them illegal in the US in 1988. The ban on the three-wheeler ATVs was made into effect immediately.

Can a person still purchase the three-wheelers?

 The three-wheelers were banned in the market in 1988 after the reports of injuries and death. But still, the trikes are available on the market, and ATVs are present in the quad form.

What do you call the 3-wheel ATVs?

The three-wheeled ATVs were named the ATC after their release on the market. The original design of this vehicle had suspension and a single seat with balloon tires.

Are three-wheel vehicles considered safe for driving?

The old version of three-wheeled vehicles was not considered safe. These vehicles had all the bad parts of a motorcycle and cars, so many accidents were seen.

When was the first three-wheeler introduced on the market?

The first three-wheeler was introduced in 1970 and was called an ATC (All-terrain cycle).

What is meant by ATC-three wheeler?

ATC stands for All-terrain cycle, which was named US-90. The name was later changed to ATC-90.

How much is the cost of a Yamaha 3-wheeler?

The Yamaha 3-wheeler costs between $1299-$2079 on the market. The second-hand Yamaha tri-motors are also available with a price range as low as $225.

Which are the fastest three-wheeler ATVs available in the market?

The fastest three-wheeled vehicle in the market is the Honda ATC 250R.