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'Insurers should be pleased' as Canberra moves on quad bikes

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Quad bikes – one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment in common use on Australian farms – must now meet a raft of safety standards announced today by the Federal Government following a two-year consultation.

The regulations, which are likely to be welcomed by farm insurers, are aimed at reducing the number of fatalities and injuries linked to the bikes, which are predominantly used as work vehicles in the agriculture and forestry industries.

Since 2001, 42 children and 207 adults have been killed in quad bike accidents in Australia. In Victoria alone, an average 85 children are treated in hospital for quad bike-related injuries.

Australia-wide, around 75% of agricultural fatalities between 2010 and 2014 involved farm vehicles, with the latest available figures showing quad bikes accounted for the highest number of deaths and injuries overall.

Deaths and injuries from quad bikes accidents cost the economy at least $200 million annually, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

They are the leading cause of fatalities among consumer products that are not subject to Australian design, safety or performance minimum standards.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar says the new safety standard “aims to address the high risk of rollovers, which is especially important for many of our farmers and their families who use these vehicles daily”.

Within 12 months manufacturers must ensure their products meet US or European standards for components like brakes, suspension, throttle and clutch. The bikes must also undergo stability tests, with the results displayed at the sale premises. Every vehicle will also require a warning label advising buyers of the risk of rollover.

Another set of rules must be complied with within 24 months, including fitting or integrating into the quad bike design an “operator protection device”. The bikes will also have to meet minimum stability requirements.

Safety specialist Shane Richardson of Delta-V Experts says the new measures will be welcomed by insurers “because it will reduce their exposure if the people they are insuring have fitted these types of devices”.

“What the insurers should be looking to do is to ensure that farmers or people they are insuring are fitting these types of devices, because if they are not, their exposure to risk is dramatically increased,” he told today.

Dr Richardson will speak on the topic later this month at the Australian Insurance Law Association’s annual conference in Hobart.

He says the measures the Government announced today are “based on a logical assessment of the science”.