A leading safety expert says quad bike regulations need to go further but new rules are a “good start”.

Key points:

  • Safety experts say there a major flaws in quad bikes design
  • They’re calling for new regulations to go further
  • Professor Raphael Grzebieta said farmers could be open to legal action without proper safety measures

Quad bikes are inherently unstable and are very prone to flipping over, according to many years of research and over 1,000 crash tests.

A new mandate that came into effect this week on quad bikes, also known as all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), which now cannot be sold without rollover protection equipment.

Professor of Road Safety at the University of NSW, Raphael Grzebieta said the move was backed by years of research and evidence.

Professor Grzebieta said, as a result, the jury was not still out on rollover protection bars being needed on quad bikes, despite what the manufacturers kept saying.

He said a number of court cases in Australia have accepted that “there is a major defect in the quad bike design”. 

“It is like driving a heavily laden truck over rough terrain,” he said.

“Our research over more than 10 years has proven that.”

“But it has worked, as we have seen the number of fatalities drop.

“We have not found a fatality where any quad bike has a roll bar fitted.

“We did a major survey of 1,600 farmers and we found that there was just one major injury where a man broke his thigh bone, but no deaths or life-threatening injury.”

Quad bike overturned on a farm.

On average, 16 lives are lost in quad bike accidents in Australia each year.(Supplied)

Training not the golden ticket

On average, 16 deaths from quad bike accidents have been recorded in Australia annually during the last 10 years. In 2020 alone 24 lives were lost.

“I have given evidence at four coronial inquests into quad bike deaths and the Victorian government has now made it illegal for landholders to use a quad bike without fitting rollover protection.”

Professor Grzebieta said it was “essential” NSW followed suit.

“If farmers don’t do it. they could end up in court,” he said.

“We have already seen a number of cases in court where people have been fined.

“If you don’t abide by warnings or you ride the quad bike with kids on the back and it flips over and kills someone you can expect to have the Police visit you about that.”

He said the road safety community has been calling for mandatory safety action for years.

Some farmers and quad bike manufacturers argue that riders needed better training to prevent serious injury or death, but Professor Grzebieta said their long term research had found otherwise. 

“Even farmers or landholders that are experienced and have been trained become complacent, overconfident and get into trouble and the quad bike flips over and a number of them have died as a result.”

Posted , updated 

‘A good start’: Researchers say quad bike regulations should go further
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