Huge quad bike safety overhaul needed

By Country News

Australia’s consumer watchdog has called for major changes to improve the safety of quad bikes, including the introduction of a safety rating system, crush protection devices and mandatory minimum performance standards.

Released earlier this month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommendations come after two young boys were killed last week, one while riding a quad bike and another while riding an all-terrain vehicle.

In its advice to Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert, who must consider the recommendations, the ACCC said more drastic measures were on the table to reduce fatalities.

‘‘A ban on quad bikes is an option that could be explored further if other regulatory measures have been pursued, and fatalities and injuries continue to occur at rates that do not meet community expectations of safety ... this could impose significant cost and disruption on the agriculture sector and other operations involving quad bikes,’’ the 134-page final recommendation document said.

There are about 190000 quad bikes in operation across the country with 44 new quad bikes sold every day, adding up to about 16000 quad bikes sold each year in Australia.

Mr Roberts said any changes would be implemented as part of a two-year transition period for the general-use model quad bikes to meet the specific design requirements and one-year transition period for all the other requirements.

The ACCC estimates fatalities and injuries caused as a result of quad bike incidents cost the Australian economy at least $200million a year.

‘‘While there has been significant investment in quad bike education campaigns and rebates from the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and industry, fatalities and injuries continue to occur at rates that do not meet community expectations of safety,’’ the ACCC’s final report said.

Children under the age of 16 account for 14 per cent of all recorded fatalities, a majority of which involved a child operating an adult-sized general-use model quad bike and experiencing a rollover incident.

But the ACCC admits it is expecting some push back surrounding the recommendations.

‘‘Suppliers have been vocally resistant to regulation that may require quad bike redesign and, with few exceptions, have not assisted the ACCC in reconciling the costs that may be realised from regulation,’’ the advice to the minister said.

However, ACCC commissioner Mick Keogh said the commission believed the steps are the best option to save lives and make quad bikes safer.

Second-hand quad bikes, except for those imported, would be exempt from the safety standard.