Researchers back move for safety system for quad bikes

UNSW researchers have welcomed a NSW government call to introduce a national five-star safety rating system for quad bikes, to help save lives on farms. 


Rider wearing a Quad bike helmet with Quadbar Operator Protective Device attached to bike. Image: UNSW

UNSW researchers have welcomed a NSW government call for the introduction of a national five-star safety rating system for quad bikes, to help save lives on farms. 

NSW Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean today said he would call on the federal government to introduce a safety rating system – the Australasian Terrain Vehicle Assessment Program (ATVAP) – for quad bikes and side by side vehicles used on farms and other workplaces.

Minister Kean said he would provide any support necessary to help develop and implement the scheme.

Since 2011, 115 people have been killed in quad bike accidents on Australian farms, with 32 in NSW alone.  

UNSW researchers at the Transport and Road Safety Research Centre (TARS), Professor Ann Williamson, Professor Raphael Grzebieta and Adjunct Associate Professor George Rechnitzer, said they strongly supported and commended the move.

“This will lead to major improvements in vehicle design and safety and a reduction in the number of quad–bike deaths and injuries on farms because it tackles the major cause of the problem,” they said in a statement.

“The ATVAP program would be similar to the consumer star rating of cars worldwide such as the Australasian New Car Assessment Program ANCAP, which has led to the large advances in vehicle safety that have been seen over the past three decades and which has saved countless lives,” they said.

In June, a survey by the UNSW researchers of quad bike safety on farms and other workplaces found that one in two riders had crashed and about two-thirds of the crashes involved rollovers. The riders had been put at risk of serious chest injury and asphyxiation.

The Quad Bike Workplace Safety Survey found riders aged 70 years or older had double the risk of injury compared with young adult riders, and mustering livestock on farms was identified as a particularly high-risk activity.

It also found that roll-bar-type devices attached to the rear of a quad bike appeared to help reduce serious chest injuries in rollovers and were not linked to any fatalities.

Minister Kean said he had met with the federal government’s Senator Michaelia Cash last month, and believed the rating system was “the next big step to reducing deaths and injuries from quad bike incidents”.

“We want to work with manufacturers and farmers to develop a scheme, which would give buyers the information they need, at a glance, to make the safest possible choice," he said in a statement. 

“This is about putting consumers first and doing what we can to keep farmers safe at work.”

Mr Kean said a safety rating system for quad bikes was a key recommendation of the NSW Deputy Coroner’s 2015 inquest into quad-bike deaths. 

A rating system would build on the NSW Government’s $2 million Quad Bike Safety Improvement Program, which provides free training and helmets for those who complete the course, as well as rebates for protective devices, and safer side-by-side vehicles., the statement said.

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