A group of state attorneys general and a coalition of consumer and medical groups yesterday separately called the recent agreement between the government and manufacturers of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) inadequate and asked for further action on the off-road vehicles, which have accounted for nearly 900 deaths since 1982.

The Dec. 30 agreement calls for an immediate end to the sale of three-wheel ATVs, which account for more deaths and injuries than the four-wheel models. The motorized tricycles, which have large wheels and high-powered engines, cost between $600 and $3,500.

The agreement also would require warning labels for the vehicles, letters warning the 2.3 million owners of ATVs of their hazards, and advertising and training campaigns to educate consumers.

The attorneys general called for stronger federal and state legislation -- particularly action that would give consumers who have bought the ATVs a refund and prohibit the use of ATVs by children under the age of 16.

The consent agreement does not address those issues.

"We feel the settlement is seriously deficient in several areas," W.J. Michael Cody, Tennessee's attorney general and chairman of a National Association of Attorneys General subcommittee on ATVs, said of the agreement between the government and the five firms that manufacture ATVs.

Children account for more than 40 percent of the deaths associated with ATVs, according to studies by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

More than 300,000 injuries requiring hospital treatment have been attributed to ATVs since 1982, according to CPSC documents.

In a separate action, consumer and medical groups filed a motion in U.S. District Court in the District asking Judge Stanley Sporkin to hold a hearing before he makes final the consent agreement between the CPSC and the manufacturers.

The groups -- which include the Ralph Nader group Public Citizen, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the Consumer Federation of America and the United States Public Interest Group -- also moved to intervene to object to the terms of the consent decree.

"With no recall or refund agreement ... ATVs will remain like ticking time bombs in the hands of consumers," said American Academy of Pediatrics President Richard M. Narkewicz. "Children will continue to face an unacceptably high risk of death and serious injury."

"For this particular agency {the CPSC}, which has done absolutely nothing for consumers during the entire Reagan administration, to file this suit indicates how dangerous {ATVs} are," said Katherine A. Meyer, a lawyer with the Public Citizen Litigation Group.

James V. Lacy, general counsel for the CPSC, called the recommendations of the attorneys general "a positive sign in that they recognize that there is a role not only for the CPSC, but for state legislators and Congress" in regulating ATVs.

He added that the CPSC and the Justice Department chose the immediate action of a settlement rather than risking numerous other deaths and injuries during a legal battle with manufacturers that could have taken up to three years.

Lacy said he had not seen the filings by consumer and medical groups.

He said, though, that he anticipates a hearing before the final consent agreement is approved.

The agreement, which was negotiated by the Justice Department and manufacturers and agreed to in a 2-to-1 vote by the CPSC, must be approved by Sporkin before it becomes final in February.

Justice Department officials, who said they had seen neither the report from the attorneys general nor the court filings, declined to comment yesterday.

Manufacturers of ATVs -- Honda Motor Co., Yamaha Motor Co., Suzuki Motors Co., Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. and the much smaller Polaris Industries L.P. -- have said that the vehicles are safe and that injuries result from operator error.

At the attorneys general press conference yesterday, Michigan Attorney General Frank J. Kelly cited the deaths of two Bay County, Mich., teenagers Saturday night as an example of the danger of the vehicles. The two died after the ATVs they were driving on a frozen river collided.

"We put our hope and faith in the CPSC," Kelley said. "We honestly feel {the agreement} is inadequate."