Death toll mounts as Government stalls on quad bike changes

On Wednesday, regional and rural Australia’s most respected voices asked the Government just how many lives needed to be lost before action would be taken to improve quad bike safety.

Already this year seven people, including children, have been killed as the result of quad bike accidents.

In February, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommended to Government that all new quad bikes be fitted with operator protection devices (OPDs) and be required to meet minimum requirements for stability, within 24 months. Since that time five people, including children have been killed in quad bike accidents.

See the ACCC’s Report here.

However, the Government is yet to adopt the recommendations.

National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson challenged the Government to explain what the delay was in enacting the declaration needed to make the life-saving changes a reality.

“What can possibly be more important than protecting the lives of Australians,” Ms Simson said.

Rural & regional Australia’s most trusted voices have questioned the Government on its delay in adopting changes to improve quad bike safety and save lives. On Wednesday, Rural Doctors Association of Australia, CEO Peta Rutherford, National Farmers’ Federation President, Fiona Simson and Cattle Council of Australia, President Tony Hegarty spoke to the media on the issue at Parliament House, Canberra.

Since 2001 more than 230 Australians have died in quad bike-related incidents. More than half of deaths caused by quad bikes are a result of a rollover, typically crushing or asphyxiation, which OPDs prevent.

Royal Flying Doctor Service Chief Executive Dr Martin Laverty said too many have been killed or injured in circumstances that could have been prevented.

“Too often RFDS doctors and nurses confront tragic quad bike accidents that could have been avoided.

“Quad bikes are part of rural life, but their use can be made safer if the ACCC recommendations are implemented,” Dr Laverty said.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has called for Operator Protection Devices (OPDs) to be made mandatory on all new quad bikes within two years.

Rural Doctors Association of Australia President, Dr Adam Coltzau, agreed.

“All too often, rural doctors and other rural health professionals see the terrible and tragic results of quad bike rollovers.

“We strongly believe that having OPDs fitted would prevent many deaths and injuries from quad bike rollovers.

“There is really no excuse for the Federal Government to delay on this issue, it should require all new quad bikes to have OPDs fitted, in line with the ACCC’s recommendation, and it should require this as soon as possible.

This is an issue which shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. The Government must stand up for the safety of rural Australians, and not be swayed by pressure from the quad bike manufacturers.”

Rural Doctors Association of Australia President, Dr Adam Coltza

Australian Workers Union Acting National Secretary, Misha Zelinsky said farmers and farm workers should have access to quad bikes that are safe.

“The AWU supports the ACCC and NFF’s position on this simple, life saving recommendation.”

The statistics speak for themselves:

  • In 2019 to date there have been seven reported quad fatalities, most on-farm.
  • 58% of quad bike deaths result from a rollover, typically crushing or asphyxiation which OPDs prevent.
  • Each year, there are over 650 hospitalisations as a result of quad bike accidents.
  • While there is no data on specific injuries, a significant proportion result in crippling disabilities.
  • The estimated annual cost to the national economy is $204 million per annum.
  • The courts are now finding that without OPDs quad bikes are not fit for the purpose of mustering cattle.
  • Between 2003 and 2011, there was an 87% reduction in fatalities from tractor accidents following the introduction of mandatory rollover protection devices.

Joining the call for the Government to implement the ACCC’s recommendations are: National Farmers’ Federation, Australian Workers Union, Country Women’s Association, National Centre for Farmer Health, National Rural Women’s Coalition, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Rural Doctor’s Association of Australia and state farming organisations: AgForce, NSW Farmers, Primary Producers South Australia, Victorian Farmers Federation and WAFarmers.

Laureta Wallace

Laureta Wallace

Laureta is the General Manager, Media and Communications at the National Farmers' Federation. As part of her wide-ranging role, Laureta oversees the NFF's Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program.

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