Quad bikes are the leading cause of fatalities in Australia of all consumer products that aren’t subject to an Australian design, safety or performance standard, according to a recently released ACCC report, which found that there have been about 130 quad bike related fatalities in Australia since 2011 – which equates to more than one a month.
Six people daily are taken to emergency departments, with at least two of those admitted with serious injuries, according to the report, which said this costs the Australian economy at least $200 million per year.
“This does not include intangible costs associated with fatalities and injuries, including but not limited to, the pain and suffering of family, friends and Australian communities,” said the report.
The ACCC estimates there are around 186,000 quad bikes in use across Australia and more than 44 new quad bikes are sold every day.
However, the ACCC said in its report that these vehicles are unusual in that, unlike cars, trucks, tractors and motorbikes, they are not subject to any regulation, and do not have to meet any minimum safety or design standard prior to supply.
“The design of quad bikes is deficient – their performance characteristics in certain reasonably foreseeable uses and misuses is inadequate,” said the report.
“Without government action, individual manufacturers are unlikely to redesign quad bikes to improve safety or to provide enhanced information about their safety performance.”
It is also likely that in the absence of government action, fatalities and injuries associated with quad bikes will continue at the same frequency, according to the ACCC.
The ACCC report said quad bike suppliers have been vocally resistant to regulation that may require quad bike redesign and, with few exceptions, have not assisted the ACCC in reconciling the costs that may be realised from regulation.
In its report, the ACCC has recommended a new safety standard which ensures key safety information is provided to consumers to better inform their decision making and raise the awareness of the risks posed by quad bikes.
The safety standard would also provide a minimum level of stability for general-use model quad bikes and require an operator protection device to be fitted or integrated into the design to reduce the number of deaths and the severity of injury in the event of a rollover.
This proposed safety standard would apply to the future supply of quad bikes in Australia following a transition period.
Operator protection devices would only be required for general-use quad bikes and not sport models or youth and transition models.
There would also be a two-year transition period for the general-use model quad bikes to meet the specific design requirements and one-year transition period for all the other requirements.
Commenting on the report, Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert said extensive consultation has been undertaken including with technical experts, farmers, the recreational and tourism sector, consumer groups, health and medical experts, industry and government bodies.
“The majority of stakeholders support a new mandatory safety standard,” said Assistant Treasurer Robert.
“The ACCC’s report highlights how these safety measures including installing an operator protection device can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of injuries, particularly from rollover incidents.
“I further seek comment from stakeholders on the role state governments should play including enforcing the wearing of helmets and safety gear and making it illegal for children to ride adult quad bikes in other than supervised sporting events.”
The Government is inviting stakeholders to review and comment on the ACCC’s recommended safety standard.
To find out more on how to make a submission, visit the consultation page, and submissions are open until 10 June.