Quad bike fatalities sees 7 Qld deaths in just 6 months. Quads are common on Australian farms. | The North West Star

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THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has defended its position on toughening quad bike manufacturing standards, pointing out that fatalities have almost doubled in 2020 compared with last year. The ACCC has been under pressure from major overseas manufacturers, some of whom have threatened to leave the market rather than meet tougher safety standards. In the first six months of 2020, 14 people including three children, have died in quad bike-related accidents in Australia, compared with eight in all of last year. Seven of this year’s fatalities have been in Queensland. The bikes are popular on farms but increasingly are being used by hobby farmers and bush bashers. Quad bike accidents are the leading cause of death and severe injuries on farms. On average, six people go to hospital each day as a result of quad bike related injuries. ACCC deputy chairman Mick Keogh said the figures were the reason the government had introduced a quad bike safety standard, the first stage of which takes effect in October. “For many years, manufacturers have been claiming rider behaviour is the major reason for the number of deaths and injuries. Their aim has been to shift the focus away from the unsafe design of quad bikes. “The truth of the matter is, the inherent instability of quad bikes causes them to frequently roll over… At least eight of the fatalities so far this year involved rollovers.” University of New South Wales research shows that almost half of quad bike accidents involved riders who had 20 or more years’ experience, while fewer than two per cent of accidents involved an operator with fewer than three years’ experience. “Misinformation and scare campaigns from groups opposed to the new safety standard have ramped up, and that’s been very disappointing to see,” Mr Keogh said. “Top of the list is the suggestion that because some quad bike manufacturers have threatened to stop selling in Australia due to the new safety requirements, farmers will lose a critical piece of farm machinery. If a manufacturer withdraws from Australia, others will willingly step in to provide the safer quad bikes. “We’ve also heard nonsense claims that improved quad bike stability and rollover protection devices … will increase fatalities as riders will have a false sense of security. “If this argument was applied to the design of cars, none of the modern safety features would be available, and the nearly 70 per cent decline in road fatalities since the mid-1970s would not have occurred.” The ACCC has produced a video showing how easily a quad bike can tip over and trap its rider. Side-by-side vehicles offer a greater of level of protection because of their increased stability, roll cage, seat belts, doors and nets, but many fatalities involving these vehicles occur when safety features are not used. Under the new rules, all imported quad bikes must meet US standards, meet stability rules and be fitted with rider protection gear.

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