13 Nov 2013

Rollover protection on quads a lifesaver - researcher

8:12 am on 13 November 2013

Associate Professor Charley Lamb, of Lincoln University's Telford Division, has backed Whangarei coroner Brandt Shortland's recommendation for more research to be done in New Zealand into the protection devices.

Mr Shortland's recommendation follows the release this week of his findings into five quad-bike related deaths in which he says the vehicles are a farmer's best friend, and also their worst enemy.

His recommendations include the compulsory wearing of helmets, more research on roll-bars and more training for riders.

On average, five people each year are killed in quad-bike accidents on farms and a further 850 are injured.

Mr Lamb, who has recently returned from a quad-bike safety symposium in Canberra, says new Australian research has shown just how easily they can roll on to their riders in a flat paddock at minimal speed.

"The quad doesn't have to be travelling very fast at all - between probably 10 and 15kmh, even - because of the very low pressure tyres they have on these things," he says.

Simulations with dummies had showed that when only one wheel went over a very small hollow or hump, the dummy tended to pull on one of the handlebars in the opposite direction, causing the quad to flick over.

"What they've noticed is it's even worse with newer quads that have got power steering because the force that they exert on the quad makes an even bigger difference," Mr Lamb says.

Australians are big advocates for rollover protection devices on quads, and liken them to seatbelts in automobiles, he says.

He believes quads should not be described as bikes as that implies they are easy to ride, when in fact they are complicated vehicles requiring a great deal of skill.