More and more Americans are spending their leisure and vacation time in the woods and national parks. And these days, many natural locales are used as terrain for off-road vehicles. But if you own an off-roader, then you’ll want to be sure it’s not one of the models that have been flagged by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Rollovers involving Yamaha Rhino 450, 660 and 700 models traveling at low speeds on level terrain have led to serious injuries and even death. Nearly 60 drivers or passengers have died and several experienced injuries to the head and neck, according to the CPSC. Many of these people weren’t wearing seatbelts.

Free upgrades are being offered to owners of the affected models to improve passenger safety.  While the recreational off-highway vehicles (ROV) in question have roll cages, two side-by-side seats and seat belts, the CPSC has issued safety tips for ROV riders. Tips include wearing a helmet and seat belt, never allowing a child to be a passenger if they’re unable to place both feet on the floorboard and only operating the vehicle off-road.

In March 2009, the CPSC first called attention to safety issues with these models, though they never officially recalled them. At that time, Yamaha began offering free helmets and upgrades on the 145,000 ROVs. Since then, there have been more deaths, and the off-road season is in full swing. As a result, and because many owners still haven’t fixed their vehicles, the CPSC issued another warning, urging drivers to stop using the vehicles and to go to the nearest dealership to receive the free upgrades.

Consumers can contact Yamaha at (800) 962-7926 or online at for more information on the free repair program.

Separately, 2009 model year Polaris all-terrain vehicles have actually been recalled because of an issue that can cause the seat to catch fire.

About 4,700 of the vehicles are being recalled following six reports that the ATV’s valve assembly can fail in cold temperatures, causing oil to leak into the exhaust system and posing a fire and burn hazard. 

The ATVs were at Polaris dealers nationwide from September 2008 through June 2009 and sold for about $9,000. Consumers should immediately stop using the ATV in cold temperatures and contact their local dealer to schedule a free repair. For more information, consumers can contact Polaris at (888) 704-5290 or online at

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