PEOPLE under the age of 16 should be banned from riding quad bikes and doing so should be made an offence, a report due out next month will recommend.
The safety study, funded by WorkCover and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, will also recommend training courses provided by manufacturers and the compulsory wearing of helmets.
The head of trauma at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Danny Cass, held a summit with quad bike manufacturers and reinforced the message that nobody under 16 should get on one.
Raphael Grzebieta, the chairman of Road Safety at the transport and road safety research unit at the University of NSW, led the study, which looked at stability, handling and crashworthiness of quad bikes and side-by-side two-seater vehicles.
“If people use quad bikes then they should train themselves to use them,’’ Professor Grzebieta said.
“We are suggesting training should be mandatory and wearing of helmets should be mandatory. Anyone under the age of 16 should not be riding quad bikes and it should be an offence.’’
A paper presented by the unit said safety could be improved by using performance-based tests to provide consumers with vehicle safety ratings.
Professor Cass said manufacturers recommended that no child under 16 should either drive or be a passenger on a quad bike.
He said quad bikes were designed to be ridden like a motorbike but, because they did not have shock-absorbing springs, all impact had to be absorbed by the tyres.
“If you go over a rock or the root of a tree, then the tyre will almost flatten to the rim of the wheel, then, as it comes off, it will rebound with a kick,’’ he said.
“A child is incredibly unsuited to a quad bike. They can get high power with very little effort and the steering is quite tricky, particularly if they hit a rough surface.’’
Since 2000, about 140 Australians have died in quad bike incidents. Most deaths were a result of head injuries, asphyxia or serious chest injuries from overturned vehicles.
Twenty-one children under the age of 16 were injured in quad bike accidents in Australia last year, representing 27 per cent of all injuries.
Nationally, 21 people died — three aged 16 or under. The youngest was a five-year-old.
Professor Tony Lower of the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety welcomed legislation for helmets, with coroner’s data showing a third of quad bike deaths involved head injuries.