Judge hits out at quad bike mis­use

Matamata Chronicle - - Farming -

Stop­ping the use of quad bikes in farm­ing has been raised as a prospect by a coroner in his writ­ten find­ings into five deaths re­lated to their use.

But in find­ings re­leased, Coroner Brandt Short­land stopped short of in­clud­ing a ban among his rec­om­men­da­tions, say­ing the quad bike was en­trenched as a vi­tal farm tool.

‘‘The other con­sid­er­a­tion is to stop us­ing quad bikes in farm­ing al­to­gether,’’ he said.

‘‘ There have been projects ex­am­in­ing this con­cept in both Aus­tralia and New Zealand on large com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions.’’ He sug­gested quad bike rid­ers: Be trained and have the ex­pe­ri­ence re­quired to ride a quad bike in their work

Choose the right ve­hi­cle for the right job Al­ways wear a hel­met He also rec­om­mended: Chil­dren should be pre­vented from rid­ing adult quad bikes

Quad bikes should not be re­ferred to as ‘‘ all- ter­rain ve­hi­cles’’ as that was ‘‘mis­lead­ing’’

Reg­u­lar test­ing of af­ter-mar­ket at­tach­ments, to en­sure they did not up­set the quad bike’s sta­bil­ity

Short­land rec­om­mended the con­tin­u­a­tion of train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion for quad bike users to en­sure the lim­i­ta­tions and frail­ties of the ma­chines were known but said that no amount of ed­u­ca­tion could save ev­ery­one.

‘‘ Un­for­tu­nately, train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion can­not teach com­mon sense or good judge­ment,’’ he said.

Nev­er­the­less, train­ing could teach the re­al­i­ties of poor quad­bik­ing de­ci­sions, such as rid­ing them on hilly, sloped ter­rain and that death and in­jury could oc­cur even when in slow mo­tion or when turn­ing, he said.

He also sug­gested con­sid­er­a­tion be given to sup­port­ing a task-force to re­search roll-over pro­tec­tion (ROP) de­vices.

He de­scribed the de­bate be­tween man­u­fac­tur­ers and ex­perts of the use of such de­vices as a ‘‘Mex­i­can stand­off’’.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers be­lieved ROP de­vices could cause a quad bike to be­come even more un­sta­ble, but ex­perts were now dis­put­ing this, Short­land said.

He also rec­om­mended that hel­mets should be worn at all times dur­ing use but it is un­known if this would have pre­vented most of the deaths in th­ese cases.

Short­land also noted many New Zealand farm­ers were trans­fer­ring from quad bikes to all-ter­rain ve­hi­cles and small ve­hi­cles with a gen­uine util­ity role.

As part of his in­quests in April into five deaths, Short­land in­vited sub­mis­sions on quad bike is­sues from ex­perts and in­volved par­ties.

The Min­istry of Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and Em­ploy­ment said it would call to­gether all the par­ties in­volved with quad bikes – man­u­fac­tur­ers, farm­ing lead­ers, com­mu­nity lead­ers, train­ers and the reg­u­la­tor – to work through how the rec­om­men­da­tions could be im­ple­mented.

‘‘Th­ese find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions give weight, in the Min­istry’s view, to the need to con­tinue fo­cus­ing on re­duc­ing the death and in­jury toll as­so­ci­ated with quad bike use in agri­cul­tural set­tings,’’ health and safety op­er­a­tion gen­eral man­ager Ona de Rooy said.

On av­er­age five peo­ple are killed and 850 are in­jured on quad bikes on farms ev­ery year.

‘‘ The Min­istry supports the in­tent of Coroner Short­hand’s rec­om­men­da­tions, al­though not all rec­om­men­da­tions are within the Min­istry’s abil­ity to im­ple­ment, the breadth and sig­nif­i­cance of them must not be lost to the sec­tor.’’

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