Quad bike dangers confirmed quad bikes continue to be the most dangerous piece of farm equipment. They are responsible for the highest number of farm fatalities

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Quad Bike Update Oct 2015
Quad bikes continue to be the most dangerous piece of farm equipment. They are responsible for the highest number of farm fatalities. The University of NSW research project QUAD BIKE PERFORMANCE confirms this and clearly shows this happebns because quad bike’s lack stability
Many of the deaths and injuries, which occur when using quad bikes, are caused by:

  • Those people on it crushed between the quad bike and the ground or another surface or

  • When operators or passengers are flung onto hard surfaces

The University of NSW research project QUAD BIKE PERFORMANCE PROJECT report released in mid 2015 has clearly shown why quad bikes are so unstable and how this can be improved.

The project critically evaluated, conducted research and carried out testing, to identify the engineering and design features required for improved vehicle static stability, dynamic handling and rollover crashworthiness. It included the evaluation of operator protective devices and accessories.

The Facts: Of the 109 off road fatalities between 2000 & 2011 considered by the research:

  • 86% of the deaths were male

  • 75% occurred on farms

  • 50% of the 109 fatalities were work related and 50% were recreational

  • 71% involved a rollover

  • Rollover was involved in 85% of the work related fatalities and 56% of the recreational.

  • Roll over was the main cause of injury on farms

  • Loss of control on a slope and / or driving over an object was a factor in 58% of the farm cases and 33% of the recreational cases

  • Rollover was the main injury mechanism of the farm cases

  • 70% of those fatally injured were pinned under the quad bike. In 66% of these cases the bike was on its side, not upside down

  • 78% of the work related fatalities were 50 years or over 50 years of age

  • 9% of recreational riders fatalities were 50 years or over 50 years of age

  • 59% of farm workers died from a chest injury and 13% from a head injury

  • 49% of recreational riders died from head injuries. This was their main cause of death

  • 22% of the 109 who died were wearing a helmet.

The report recommends the development of a Vehicle Star Rating system for quad bike and Side-by-Side vehicles (SSVs) so consumers purchasing vehicles or accessories are informed that vehicles with higher star ratings will represent a lower risk of rollover and hence have a lower potential for injury.

The researchers recommend the Vehicle Star Rating should be listed at point of sale. The rating sticker should be placed on the vehicle, and ratings presented online as with the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) Ratings

The final Star rating for the 16 tested vehicles is shown below

The report states:

  • Carrying a pillion (including a child) and elevated loads (e.g. spray tanks) can be particularly dangerous. This increases the Quad bike’s instability and increases the likelihood of rollover as well as reducing the rider's control of the vehicle.

  • Carrying of relatively small loads adversely affects the stability of quad bikes stability more than that of the Side-by-Side (SSV).

The report also recommends

  • Wherever possible and practical, the replacement of existing quad bikes with four star rated vehicles should be considered.

  • Where it has been assessed that existing quad bikes are still acceptable or cannot be replaced then retrofitted of Crush Protection Devices (CPD) or Operator Protection Devices (OPD) should be retro-fitted to existing on-farm Quad bikes. It is noted the CPD or OPD are likely to offer a net safety benefit in slow speed crashes typical of most farm use.

  • Where children are carried as passengers in SSVs, an age appropriate standard- compliant child restraint or similar to that used for passenger vehicles should be required, for the same reasons that current adult three point restraints in road vehicles are not appropriate for children.

  • Mandating wearing of a suitable standard-compliant helmet that is comfortable for workplace use, yet offers protection against head impact and thermal loading

  • Farms / workplaces to select the safest vehicle best suited to the task and workplace.

  • Access roads on farms and the terrain over which quad bikes travel should be speed limited taking into consideration the vehicle’s dynamic handling characteristics.

  • Workplace areas that are inappropriate or hazardous for quad bikes to travel over should be identified, marked out and sign posted using reliable low cost methods. All users should be informed of no-go areas

On 3rd August 2015 the Queensland Coroner released his report into his inquest of eleven quad bike fatalities. The coroner noted: quad bikes are:

  • The leading cause of non-intentional injury deaths on Australian farms

  • The most dangerous piece of farm equipment.

  • On average, 15 – 20 people die per year in Australia on quad bikes and there is no sign of this trend slowing down

The coroner has recommended legislation to

  • Mandate the completion of the nationally accredited training by all quad bike riders and SSV drivers, through a certification or licensing scheme

  • Mandate the wearing of helmets (which comply with the Australian standard) by all quad bike and SSV operators

  • Prohibit children

a) Under the age of 16 from operating adult sized quad bikes and SSVs

b) Between the ages of 6 and 16 from operating a youth sized quad bike or SSV that is not specified to be appropriate according to the manufacturer’s age recommendation for that particular vehicle

c) Under the age of 7 from being carried as passengers on adult- sized SSVs as well as

d) Any child of whatever age if they are unable to sit with their back against the seat, feet flat on the floor and floor rests, and hands on handholds

e) Under the age of 16 from being carried as passengers on adult-sized sit-astride quad bikes.

  • Prohibit carriage of passengers on quad bikes other than those specifically designed to carry an operator and a passenger

More Information:

Australian Centre for Agricultural Health & Safety website: http://www.aghealth.org.au - go to “Projects / Farm Hazards / Quads”


ABC Television Landline On the Safe Side 25 July 2015
The Farmsafe Australia resource “Safety of Quad and Side-by-Side Vehicles on Australian Farms” www.farmsafeorg.au
View a video on the safe operation of quad bikes at http://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/999501#toc1

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