ATV survey underway
Farmers who ride quad bikes are being sought to participate in a new online survey to assist with a new safety research project.
The death of several farmers has prompted SafeWork NSW to team up with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to come up with recommended law changes regarding the operation of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) in the state.
The independent, online Quad Bike Workplace Safety Survey is being undertaken by the Transport and Road Safety Research Centre at UNSW, in response to a recommendation by a 2015 coronial inquiry in NSW into the deaths of 11 quad bike riders in the state. In handing down her findings, NSW deputy coroner Sharon Freund called for more research to assess the benefits, risks and general efficacy of the protection devices.
Quad bike accidents are the leading cause of death on Australian farms, having overtaken tractor accidents more than five years ago.
More than 220 people have been killed in quad bikerelated crashes in Australia since 2001.
Previous studies suggest riders are pinned by the bike in some way in 65 per cent of cases, with half the fatalities caused by asphyxiation.
“The tragic tide of death and serious injury affecting Australian farmers and other workers who use quad bikes needs to be stemmed,” UNSW Quad Bike Workplace Safety project leader Raphael Grzebieta says. “We know farmers are mainly being killed by rollover crashes. A lot of them die simply because the weight of the quad bike stops them from being able to breathe, which must be a terrible way to go.”
Researchers hope to gain a better understanding of how quad bike rollovers and other crashes occur, what injuries people sustain, and how some people manage to escape injury.
“The people who ride quad bikes for work are the only ones who can tell us what is happening out there in the real world, so we hope as many farmers and other workers as possible in New South Wales will participate,” Grzebieta says.
“Outcomes from this study will answer some very important research questions about quad bike safety that can only be answered through a comprehensive survey of workplace quad bike users.
“While our research indicates overall benefits of such operator protection devices, the best measure of their safety performance will come from this real world data.”
Meanwhile, the NSW Government has committed $2 million to reduce quad bike injuries and deaths on farms, as part of a recent state Budget announcement. Measures detailed in the funding package include rebates of $500 on the purchase of compliant helmets, safer vehicles such as side-by-side UTVs, approved operator protection devices, and training courses tailored to farmers.
NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello is pleased that more resources have been allocated to quad bike safety.
“Quad bike related injuries and fatalities are at an unacceptable level,” Dominello says.
“Every death is one too many and has devastating effects on families and communities.
“What we are doing is balancing the regulatory burden on farmers with raising the bar on safety by improving awareness and providing practical assistance.
“We know there are around 200,000 quad bikes in operation across Australia in both a commercial and recreational capacity, and this program is a step forward to reducing injuries and saving lives.”
NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian says the rate of farmer deaths is too high and is hopeful the funding package will help improve farmer safety.
“We hope this rebate will go a long way in reducing quad bike related injuries and deaths by introducing safer practices,” she says.
To reduce the risk of quad bikes rolling on riders and trapping them, some manufacturers such as Linhai have developed roll bar-like devices that attach to quad bikes, or have teamed up with roll bar manufactures to do so.
Quad Bar Industries’ David Robinson has been working with Linhai to fit anti-rolling devices to the company’s quad bikes and says he is pleased state governments are starting to inject more funding into quad bike safety.
However, while roll bar manufacturers are confident their products can save lives and reduce injuries, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, representing quad bike manufacturers, has argued they may cause more harm than good – by striking riders or preventing riders from escaping from the vehicle in a crash.
The later issue has been mitigated somewhat by smart designs that place anti-rolling devices on the rear of the bike, rather than over the rider cabin.
“We know farmers are mainly being killed by rollover crashes”
Quad Bar Industries representative David Robinson has been working with Linhai to fit anti-rolling devices to the company’s quad bikes