Automotive body slams quad bike review

By Country News

Australia’s competition watchdog is using rural Australians as ‘‘guinea pigs’’ with its proposed changes to quad bike safety regulations, according to a peak industry organisation.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industry has slammed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, accusing it of recommending a flawed star rating system, and ‘‘experimenting with the public’’ with its recommendations.

The ACCC has put forward a number of recommendations for reform to quad bike safety, including mandatory safety standards, additional warnings and requiring the fitting of crush protection devices.

Earlier this month, the FCAI quit the Technical Review Group that was established to consult the ACCC regarding the changes, saying it was not allowed to critically review the star rating system and it became ‘‘very obvious’’ that people who set up the group were ‘‘determined they were going to go ahead with it’’.

The FCAI is calling for mandatory helmets, improved and mandated rider training, banning children under 16 years of age from riding adult-sized vehicles and banning passengers from riding on single seat vehicles.

FCAI ATV manager Mark Collins said many of these practices had been adopted in the United States and had seen fatalities fall as a result and would be an ‘‘obvious’’ place to start.

Mr Collins in particular questioned the ACCC’s suggestion that mandatory crush protection devices (CPD) should be among the regulations considered, stating there was a ‘‘lot of false information going around’’ about how effective they were.

‘‘We would say that farmers need to evaluate the potential dangers on their property when using an ATV. There’s plenty of other things that can be done other than fitting a CPD,’’ he said.

‘‘Previous evidence and research showed they caused just as many injuries as they can prevent.’’

An ACCC spokesperson said the commission was focused on improving the safety of quad bikes — which account for about 16 deaths a year and six emergency department presentations a day — and would consider all submissions.

‘‘Manufacturers have not made any substantial changes to the design of quad bikes in the last 10 years ... quad bikes are completely unregulated, even though quad bikes are suggested to be almost twice as lethal per kilometre of driving,’’ the spokesperson said.

‘‘The FCAI has been vocal since the ACCC’s safety investigation was announced, resisting any regulatory intervention.’’

The ACCC will make a final recommendation to Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar once it is determined whether a mandatory safety standard under Australian Consumer Law is necessary.