Quad bike changes hit hurdle

By Country News

ATV manufacturers, dealers and farmers are uniting to fight proposed engineering changes to quad bikes, fearing they could do more harm than good.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is pushing for mandatory crush protection devices on all-terrain vehicles but industry research and other survey data show they can cause as many injuries as they may prevent.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, farmers and dealers have called on the ACCC to objectively review all the research and existing safety data before making any recommendations.

The FCAI is concerned that there is an ‘‘ill-informed’’ rush to install CPDs without solid evidence to support their use.

Instead, the FCAI is proposing the known safety practices of mandating helmets for all ATV riders, banning children aged under 16 from riding adult ATVs, and banning passengers from riding single-seat ATVs.

The FCAI is also encouraging rider training so riders are more aware of safe practice, correct riding techniques and avoiding risky situations.

Finley dairy farmer Neville Kydd said quad bikes were essential for his business but he feared rollover protection devices would make them less safe and less efficient.

‘‘From what we have seen, we don’t think that CPDs will help make quad bikes any safer,’’ Mr Kydd said.

‘‘Our farm is set up with electric gates that we drive under; it would be very difficult to go under them with roll bars so they wouldn’t be user-friendly machines. It would make them substantially less efficient.’’

Mr Kydd backs FCAI suggestions for accredited training programs and mandatory helmets.

‘‘Training is the most important part,’’ he said.

Peter Hill Honda dealer principal in Numurkah David Forman said CPDs on quad bikes would not be practical.

‘‘They wouldn’t allow for good rear rack use, for example, carrying sprayers, and they could catch on trees,’’ he said.

Mr Forman said quad bikes were the base of his business.

‘‘No quads equal no business.’’

He supported FCAI calls for improved training as the best way to improve safety.

‘‘I’ve been riding quads for 25 years and selling them for 10 years and have never had an accident,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s all about shifting your weight to counter the bike’s weight, applying common sense and riding to the conditions. We could die from many other things on a farm, but we don’t ban them.’’

FCAI ATV safety expert Mark Collins said there was comprehensive evidence that other safety measures — such as making helmets obligatory, keeping children off adult-sized quad bikes and not carrying passengers on single-seat quad bikes — would cut deaths by more than 50 per cent.

Safework Australia says the risk of a rollover increases if the quad bike is crossing slopes, travelling at high speed, towing an attachment, travelling over rocky or uneven ground or carrying a heavy or unstable load, for example chemicals for spraying.

In 2016, there were 10 quad bike fatalities in Australia, including workers and non-workers, and 50percent of these were related to rollovers.