They’re popular for their convenience and usability, but quad bikes harbour a sinister reality.
Despite perceptions of safety due to their sturdy appearance and four wheels rather than two, incidents on quad bikes represent the majority of farm deaths.
Between 2001 and 2017, there were 247 deaths resulting from quad bike incidents. In 2017 alone, there were 12 fatalities, including children, associated with quad bikes, not including the number of life-changing injuries which are associated with quad bike use.
The number of deaths and injuries resulting from quad bike incidents might surprise many. But this only highlights the need for greater awareness around the dangers associated with quad bikes.
People might not be aware of the instability of quad bikes and their subsequent propensity to roll over, crushing or asphyxiating riders. What’s more, utes and two-wheeler bikes are safer modes of transport than quad bikes.
The dangers of quad bikes have gained greater recognition over recent years, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) review into quad safety considered a high point among advocates for greater regulation of quad bikes.
Based on its findings, the ACCC recommends the introduction of a five-star safety rating, the mandatory installation of crush protection devices (CPDs), and minimum test requirements for static stability in quads.
The use of CPDs on quad bikes is proven to enhance safety, and is a key development in reducing the number of deaths from quad bike rollovers. Victoria and NSW now offer rebate programs to encourage the fitting of CPDs to quad bikes currently in use.
There are also a number of rebate programs available to encourage quad bike driver training, and to encourage the use of alternative vehicles such as side-by-side vehicles.
SafeWork NSW and the Victorian Farmers’ Federation programs include rebates for these purposes, and Work Health and Safety regulators in Queensland, NSW and Victoria are running programs to improve quad bike safety.
During Farm Safety Week 2018, Farmsafe Australia’s Chairman Charles Armstrong urges farmers to consider alternatives to quad bikes.
In terms of practical measures to take when using quads, Mr Armstrong suggests that all owners and operators of quad bikes must not allow children under 16 years of age to ride quad bikes (of any size), refrain from carrying passengers, ensure the maintenance of vehicles (especially the tyre pressure and brakes), ensure training supervision, work within load limits, and always wear a helmet.
Further information can be found at: www.farmsafe.org.au or by contacting farmsafe Australia on (02) 6269 5622 or your state Farmsafe group.