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Introducing new quad bike safety laws

 

Quad bikes are a popular piece of farming machinery – and for good reason. They are affordable, can be a powerful mode of transport, and are easily manoeuvrable, making them a popular vehicle of choice for towing items on farmland from place to place.

But quad bikes can be as equally dangerous as they are handy. Too often people are seriously injured or killed when they rollover while riding these four-wheelers.

Why have new quad bike safety standards been introduced?

According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), quad bike fatalities reached new heights in 2020.

Despite farmers taking safety precautions while riding quad bikes and countless campaigns aimed at improving quad bike rider behaviour, the ACCC reported that  a total of 24 people died in quad bike-related accidents across the country in 2020, compared to eight people in 2019.

Shockingly, three out of the 14 quad bike related deaths in the first six months of 2020 were children.

In addition, in 2020, the ACCC also reported that quad bike accidents were the leading cause of death and severe injuries on Australian farms, and staggeringly, six people went to hospital each day due to quad bike related injuries.

The increasing number of quad bike injuries and deaths is one of the main reasons why the Australian Government introduced a new mandatory Quad Bike Safety Standard.

What is the new Quad Bike Safety Standard?

The  Consumer Goods (Quad Bike) Safety Standard 2019 was introduced on 11 October 2019 and has come into effect in two stages:

The Safety Standard applies to all new and imported second-hand quad bikes, including all general use (e.g. utility, work or agricultural), sports and youth quad bike models. 

Under stage 2 of the Safety Standard, all new and imported second-hand general use quad bikes must have an Operator Protective Device (OPD) pre-fitted or incorporated into the vehicle’s design and must meet certain minimum stability requirements.

What is an Operator Protection Device (OPD)?

OPDs are otherwise known as roll bars. In the event of a rollover, OPDs are designed to protect a quad bike rider from being pinned or crushed underneath the weight of a tipped quad bike.

Which OPD needs to be fitted?

If you are buying a new or imported second-hand general use quad bike it must be fitted with one of the following OPDs (subject to certain specifications):

  • an ATV Lifeguard,
  • a Quadbar, or
  • a device that offers the same or better level of protection from the risk of death or serious injury as a result of a quad bike rider being pinned or crushed due to a rollover.

This means that from 11 October 2021, it will be a breach of the Australian Consumer Law to sell a new or imported second-hand general use quad bike without an operator protection device fitted and without the minimum stability requirements satisfied (among other requirements).

The National Farmers' Federation (NFF), which is a peak national body representing farmers and, more broadly, agriculture across Australia, has been pushing for tougher quad bike safety standards for years and have welcomed the new "life-saving" Safety Standard.

Former NFF president Brent Finlay  highlighted to the ABC News that the NFF had to keep “being strong” for the farming and agricultural industry to protect as many people as they could due to the high fatality rates from quad biking accidents.