A Murray Valley dairy farm which has seven full-time employees has deliberately moved away from using quad bikes because of their dangerous history.
The Van Den Bergs gave up trying to control poor driver behaviour on the machines years ago, and shifted to side-by-side machines which offer more protection for the drivers.
Although the machines are slightly more expensive, the Van Den Bergs say they are happier with the outcome and have more confidence in the machines.
Accidents on quad bikes in Australia have now overtaken tractor accidents as the most common cause of death and injury on farms.
About 150 fatalities have been reported since 2000 and most were children.
‘‘When I asked about the diesel or petrol models, the salesman said the petrol ones go faster,’’ Iwan Van Den Berg said.
‘‘I don’t want them fast,’’ said Mr Van Den Berg, who chose the diesel models.
‘‘Quad bikes have been around for a long time. But they are getting heavier and faster.
‘‘We were getting sick of telling staff to wear helmets and slow down.
‘‘You had to convince them to wear one, even if they were getting on the bike for five metres. Because five metres could turn into 10 or 20 ... And it takes the same time to put a helmet on for five metres, as it does for 5km.’’
The two quad bikes are gone and after expanding the farm in 2010, the farm now has three of the side-by-side vehicles.
Iwan pointed out the advantages: enclosed roll bar, seat belts, automatic transmission, ample tool bay, carrying tray for a small square hay bale or electric fence posts and tape reel.
The Van Den Bergs’ family business is operated by Iwan and Melissa, and Iwan’s brother Erwin and partner Julie. The farm is on about 800ha, milks about 1250 cows and employs seven full-time staff plus two milking staff and two maintenance staff.
■A nine-year-old boy from Milawa was involved in a quad bike rollover late Sunday morning.
Police said there were no witnesses to the crash but the boy has since been flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital and was in a stable condition on Monday.
Police were continuing with the investigation at the time of going to print.