The bitter dispute over the mandatory fitting of rollover devices on quad bikes continues to heat up amid reports two more people have died in accidents on the machines in the past week.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the key advocate for rollover bars, said one of the accidents had involved a quad bike but it wasn't yet clear if the second had been a quad (ATV) or a side-by-side (SSV).
A grazier and businessman from Crows Nest north of Toowoomba died in what the local media reported was a quad bike rollover accident while NSW Police said a man was killed near Tenterfield in northern NSW when a quad rolled on top of him and caught fire.
Save the Quad Bike in Australia founder Craig Hartley said while both accidents were a tragedy for the families involved he maintained his organisation's unshakeable view that mandatory rollover devices were not a panacea to stop quad bike deaths.
The first tranche of the Federal Government's new quad bike safety standards will be introduced next month when all new and second-hand imported general-use quad bikes sold will be required to have a test tag attached indicating the angle at which they will rollover.
From October next year all quads will have to be fitted with an Operator Protection Devices (OPDs) before sale and will have to meet minimum stability standards.
Mr Hartley estimated there were close to 700,000 second-hand quad bikes in the Australian market and questioned why they weren't being included in the new safety standards if the supporters of rollover bars were so adamant the protection devices would slash the death toll.
His stance is being supported by Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Queensland's peak farm organisation AgForce, the Green Shirts Movement and most of the leading quad bike manufacturers who have announced they are withdrawing from the Australian market.
They want the push for the compulsory fitting of rollover devices scrapped in favour of better training and education, the mandatory wearing of safety gear such as helmets and the licensing of riders.
The likes of the ACCC, the National Farmers Federation and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia say research clearly shows that rollover devices will stem the current high death toll involving quads which are widely used on Australian farms.
The latest bone of contention between the two warring parties is new research commissioned by the American Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) which indicated rollover devices can play a key role in protecting riders during accidents.
The research was pounced on by the ACCC as more evidence that rollover devices are needed on quad bikes in Australia.
The report included the result of lateral rollover tests conducted on six different quad bike models fitted with ATV Lifeguard and Quadbar OPDs and compared them to tests without an OPD.
"The study used state-of-the-art testing equipment including test dummies with sophisticated electronic sensors and is perhaps the most rigorous real-world test of OPDs yet conducted," ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said.
"The results support the ACCC's view that OPDs are likely to save lives," he said.
"In low speed lateral rollover tests involving a quad bike with an OPD, significant impact between the quad bike and the crash test dummy was virtually eliminated.
"In contrast, in rollover tests of the same model quad bikes without an OPD, the test dummy was struck more than five times more often," Mr Keogh said.
But the FCAI accused the ACCC of cherry picking from the research report.
"Significantly, the CPSC has not made any recommendations for or against the fitment of OPDs, indicating the study is inconclusive," FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said.
"Previous studies commissioned by the FCAI and undertaken by Dynamic Research Inc (DRI), an independent US firm, have clearly shown there is no net safety benefit in fitting an OPD to an ATV (all-terrain vehicle)," Mr Weber said.
"Photographs taken from the CPSC's own report are a grim illustration of just what can happen when an OPD is fitted.
"In this scenario, the OPD has changed the roll-over dynamics to increase the vehicle's height and caused it to fall with greater force, ultimately crushing and coming to rest on top of the rider."
Since 2011, around 150 people have died from quad bike related accidents in Australia, 23 of whom have been children.
The story Two more deaths as quad bike rollover device debate rages first appeared on Farm Online.