5 Nov 2009

Conflicting views over roll bars on quad bikes

9:02 pm on 5 November 2009

A quad bike manufacturers' representative says his industry is the best placed to decide whether roll bars should be fitted on to the vehicles to prevent serious injury or death.

Two coroners reports into quad bike fatalities, including that of a Taranaki farm worker, have called for the machines to be fitted with roll bars or cages as well as harnesses and for the use of helmets to be made compulsory.

And an ACC agriculture spokesperson, Peter Jones, says he doesn't see why lightweight "t-bar" structures can't be fitted on the bikes, as in his view they do provide some protection to users.

But a spokesperson for the motorcycle group of the Motor Industry Association, Phill Haynes, says international research last decade concluded that roll bars actually increase injury risk in a quad bike accident.

He says he doesn't know why coroners, academics and government agencies continue to recommend them.

Helmets, rider education still 'best way' to go

Mr Haynes says helmets and rider education remain the best ways of reducing bike accidents and injuries on the farm.

He says there's evidence that rural New Zealand is continuing to shun these safety measures, although Federated Farmers is backing the use of helmets.

A recent study by Otago University showed the rate of serious injury and fatalities on farms as still high despite declines in other sectors over the past two decades; it also showed an especially steep rate of accidents associated with quad bike use.

The research called for regulations for imported farm equipment to ensure it is safe for use on New Zealand farms.