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Call for quad safety after "worrying trend" of tragedies

Call for quad safety after "worrying trend" of tragedies
Safer Farms is urging quad bike riders to wear helmets and implement other short-term safety messages such as speed governing and crush protection after a spate of tragic accidents last month. PHOTO SUPPLIED

December's spate of quad bike fatalities, including one in the Ashburton District, has been described as an "disturbing" and "worrying".

Safer Farms is calling on quad bike users to take rider safety seriously after six deaths in the past month.

Chairperson Lindy Nelson said the large number of tragedies involving quad bikes was an "incredibly disturbing and worrying trend" with "horrific consequences" for family members and local communities.

Nelson said riders should have helmets and roll over or crush protection as the bare minimum protection.

"With quads, we don't have enough farmers using the safety equipment.

"Quad bikes are getting bigger and bigger. There is no way, if they roll, that riders are not going to get hurt without the right protection."

She said cars were equipped with the likes of ASB brakes and airbags that allowed drivers to fail safely - and quad bike riders needed similar protection to allow them to fail without serious or fatal consequences.

Some members of Safer Farms were using helmets and crush protection alongside limiting the maximum speed. Quad users on these farms had rolled and walked away.

Other farms were moving away from quad bikes. Some had changed to side-by-sides and other farms were using horses in terrain that is more difficult where quads were more likely to roll.

Nelson said Safer Farms would be holding a webinar in February for farmers to share their experiences with quad bikes and develop a long-term plan for the safe use of quad bikes.

"If we don't control this it will be controlled through regulation - which could have unintended consequences," she said.

On December 3, a person died at the scene of a single vehicle crash at about 10.30pm when a quad bike rolled on Back Track, which runs between Methven and Mitcham. Police have not released the name of the person killed in the crash.

A day later a person died after a quad bike rolled just after 9am in a paddock on a rural property near Ohauiti, south of Tauranga. This fatality was work-related and reported to WorkSafe.

On December 10, a mad died in Timaru after the quad bike he was riding left the road at the intersection of Prattley and Macaulay Roads just before midnight.

A 39-year-old woman from Hamilton died after a quad bike accident near Marokopa in Waikato around 5pm on December 27.

Two children aged four and six died on December 29 after the bike they were on, with four others, hit a rock and careened into a water hole in the Far North. Their bodies were recovered a day later. The other three passengers and driver were taken to hospital with minor-to-moderate injuries

Nelson said a focus on quad safety was essential, especially at this time of the year when there were family, friends and visitors on the farm.

"Quad bikes are powerful and not for inexperienced people," she said.

Quad accidents on farm

An average of five people are killed on farms each year in work-related quad bike accidents, while hundreds are injured each year, according WorkSafe

The workplace health and safety regulator said there were about 80,000 quad bikes in use on farms, with the most common types of accident being falling off quads, rolling them, or hitting objects.

In 2023 to December 12, there had been three workplace fatalities involving quad bikes: One person died when a quad bike rolled in Waikato on April 13, a second died in when their quad rolled near Stratford on November 25 and a third person died in Ohauiti after a quad bike incident on December 4.

Quad bike fatalities are not work related are not reported to WorkSafe.

Data of workplace crashes between December 13 to the end of the month would only be update when staff returned from holiday this week, WorkSafe said.

By Sharon Davis