THE quad bike industry is at odds with farm safety advocates over proposed safety modifications aimed at preventing rider deaths.
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber said forcing roll-over and crush protection onto quad bikes would only hinder rider safety.
Yet, Mr Weber’s comments are in contrast to those from farm safety advocates following a report into the nine quad-bike deaths in NSW between 2009 and August 2014.
In her report, Deputy Coroner Sharon Freund recommended the state government investigate laws to prohibit children from adult-sized vehicles, as well as compulsory training, seatbelts and helmets.
Mrs Freund also called for a new safety rating system and manufacturing standards, more research on crush protection devices, and public awareness campaign on safety and responsibility.
While Mr Weber backed better training, safety equipment, and awareness campaigns, he did not agree with the University of NSW Traffic and Road Safety team’s proposed vehicle star rating system.
Melbourne-based bike industry veteran and administrator of quad bike website Thumbpump Peter Wilhelm also said some proposed modifications could prove deadly.
“After 30 years in the industry, I can say crush protection, roll-over, and seatbelts on traditional quad bikes would cause more problems than they’d solve,” Mr Willhelm said.
However, Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety director Dr Tony Lower said the coroner’s findings showed safety was a design issue.
“The deaths that are happening… these people have been mostly using the vehicles in a very conservative manner within the constraints they were designed for,” Dr Lower said.
Victorian quad bike safety advocate Emily Cason said manufacturers must come to the table to discuss safety design solutions.
In 2008 Mrs Cason’s 11-year-old son Sam was killed at a friend’s farm in regional Victoria when he was thrown from a 500cc quad bike.
“The industry needs to get together with people like us and work together to find a solution,” she said.
Both NSW Farmers and the National Farmers Federation welcomed the coroner’s recommendations and backed the introduction of a star rating system.
SafeWork NSW executive director Peter Dunphy said the agency was reviewing the coroner’s findings.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) said the NSW government must respond quickly to the Coroner’s recommendations.