Manufacturers and distributors of quad bikes have welcomed the recommendations made by Coroner Shortland into quad bike safety, says David Crawford, chief executive officer of the Motor Industry Association.
The New Zealand distributors agree the term ATV (all terrain vehicle) should no longer be used to describe this genre of bike. Following consultation with the Coroner earlier in the year, industry had already begun to refer to these vehicles as quad bikes to reflect they cannot be used on any terrain, says Crawford.
The Motor Industry Association has consistently advocated quad bikes should be well maintained, users should wear the appropriate safety equipment including a helmet, they should ensure they understand how to ride these vehicles and that training in their use is essential. The Coroner endorsed these fundamental basic safety messages.
Crawford said: “Industry accepts use of roll over protection systems remains a talking point. Quads are designed for active riding, fitting quads with equipment that may impede a rider’s ability to disengage from it if something goes wrong remains a concerns to distributors. The choice of whether a quad is fitted with roll over protection systems should lie with the owner of the quad bike taking into account their personal preferences.”
The MIA continues to encourage farmers to think carefully about choosing the right tool for the job. For some farm uses the quad bike is probably not best choice. Using quad bikes to tow heavy trailers or overloading quad bikes with lots of bulky aftermarket equipment can lead to disastrous consequences.
Crawford said, if used within the manufacturer’s recommendations, quad bikes remains a safe and convenient way to undertake many jobs on a farm.
• Quads are in effect 4 wheel motorcycles designed for active riding and fundamentally the rider is part of the bike’s design. All controls and functions are the same as a two wheel motorcycle with the exception of the fact the rider has to be more rider active when riding the quad.
• Quads were designed with low pressure high volume tyres so they could act as part of the suspension and follow the contour of the land.
• Quad have to be ridden in a rider active manner to meet the design parameters and allow the rider to detach safely from the quad with no physical impediment or fitments of aftermarket accessories that can impede the rider detaching away from the quad which are not in the design concept. The fitting of aftermarket accessories is normally at the customer’s request and should remain with the owner of the quad bike taking into account their intended use of it and their personal preferences.
• Quads have pliable curved plastic guards that are design to roll over he rider should there be contact between the rider and the quad.
• As Quads are unique in their riding function it is advised that all new riders complete an authorised quad training course and that riders of some experience have a refresher course. All users should ensure they understand how to ride these vehicles in a safe way - training is essential
As the average weight of a quad is around 300 kg's children under 16years should not be allowed to ride adult quads as they do not have the strength or cognitive skills to handle a vehicle of this weight and unique handing uncharacteristic.
• Manufacturers recommend that wearing of a helmet for safety reasons as any injury to the head can have long term effect on the health and wellbeing of the rider effectively common sense.
• As a quad was primarily designed as an off road recreational vehicle in its normal design and low millage use a quad requires a service possibly twice a year (Manufactures recommend servicing at 100 hrs) whereas on NZ farms this can be achieved in 2 weeks. Farmers usually do considerable more than the recommended service time frame to keep service costs down but as the farm environmental can have a fair amount of wear and tear and be toxic to a quad full services can be expensive.
• As a quad is designed as a recreational vehicle to be ridden by one person the seat shape, position of the footrests and overall balance of the engine and frame will only accommodate one rider safely.
• This has to be a judgement call of the farmer on whether a quad is the right vehicle to complete some jobs on the farm while a quad can be multi capable and farmers will in some cases totally over extend the capacity of the vehicle they should give more thought to using another vehicle capable to doing the job. Alternative farm vehicles such as side x sides were introduced into the market about 5 years ago and these vehicles should be considered by farmers as being more suitable for some jobs on the farm. For lighter jobs a two wheel farm bike is more than adequate and on some farms farmers already have this combination in place.
• We would recommend that the owner / rider of any farm bike/vehicle read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendation as they have spent considerable time and research to make sure the advice they give will make riding their new vehicle safe and enjoyable.