Quad bike changes will save rural lives

CWA supports quad bike changes

Life & Style
Stephanie Stanhope says the CWA of NSW will always advocate for increased safety outcomes especially when it contributes to substantial policy change.

Stephanie Stanhope says the CWA of NSW will always advocate for increased safety outcomes especially when it contributes to substantial policy change.

Aa

Stephanie Stanhope says the CWA of NSW will always advocate for increased safety outcomes especially when it contributes to substantial policy change.

Aa

Change isn't always easy, but sometimes it is necessary; especially when lives, livelihoods and communities are involved.

Most readers would be aware of the new requirements relating to quad bike measures that have kicked in as of the October 11.

There are new rules in place that will improve quad bike safety through the provision of more consumer information outlining warnings for operators.

Related reading:

The design of new quad bikes will also need to be improved from a handling perspective.

Most notably though, there will be a requirement for the mandatory fitment of operator protection devices (OPD's), or rollover bars as they are commonly known, to new vehicles.

We acknowledge that the rollover bar debate has not always been straightforward.

We also acknowledge that increased red tape is not always the answer; but in this case it is.

Some of those opposed to mandatory rollover protection rightly highlight the numbers of injuries associated with inappropriate use, use by children and low compliance in relation to things like helmet wearing. They are all correct in pointing out these issues.

The work of organisations like ours, government and other stakeholders should not stop in relation to increasing quad bike safety messaging. Critics also point out the risk of injuries associated with side-by-side vehicle (SSV) use.

We must always educate consumers about the safe operation of all types of machinery, including SSVs. That said, the argument that increased education on these aspects alone, without directly addressing rollover risks, has demonstrably failed.

Deaths and injuries associated with rollover risks are still rising, despite the best efforts of many to increase safety messaging and educate users about safe ways of working. It is time for change and that change has now come.

The facts do not lie. Nine people have died in quad bike accidents so far this year, and 2020 had the highest annual death toll with 24 quad bike fatalities.

Safe Work Australia, when reviewing quad-bike related deaths between 2011 and 2018 found that none of the 128 fatalities reported in that time frame were associated with any form of rollover protection on the vehicle, and that overall, 60 per cent of quad fatalities involved rollovers.

We can't abide the numbers of deaths and injuries that are being reported.

As an organisation we have previously lobbied for seatbelts and white lines on roads to improve safety, and this is no different.

Assistance, in the form or rebates, is available for consumers to either fit rollover protection devices, or purchase side-by-side vehicles instead of a quad bike, and the market is responding accordingly.

The numbers are more than numbers, they are family members and valued members of rural communities whose loss leaves an unimaginable hole in the lives of those who knew them.

  • Stephanie Stanhope is the state president of CWA.

Love agricultural news? Sign up for The Land's free daily newsletter.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by