The federal government has responded to calls from the consumer watchdog, farmers and community groups, announcing today that roll-over protection will be mandatory on all new quad bikes within 24 months.
In February the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a report which recommended government mandate roll-over protection on all new quad bikes sold in Australia.
Since 2001, 230 people have been killed on quad bikes. About 60 per cent of all quad bike accidents are caused by roll-over.
From 2011, on average 16 people a year are killed in a quad bike accident, and an estimated six people a day present to an emergency hospital department with at least two of these admitted with serious injuries.
Assistant Treasurer Micheal Sukkar said Quad bikes are the leading cause of fatalities in Australia that are caused by unregualted products.
"This 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," Mr Sukkar said.
As well as mandatory roll bars, quad bikes must:
- Have a warning label alerting riders to the risk of roll over
- Meet US or European standards for components such as brakes, suspension, throttle and clutch
- Display stability test results on a hang tag attached to the bike at point of sale
Within 24 months, all new general use model (utility) quad bikes must: be fitted with a roll bar, or have it integrated into the design
- Meet minimum stability requirements
- Prominent manufacturers are opposed to mandatory roll-over protection.
Prominent manufacturers have opposed mandatory roll-over protection.
They argue that safety data shows roll-over protection can cause safety risks, and that behavioural changes such as helmet use, as well as preventing children and passengers from using quad bikes, would be more effective.
"Today's result is nothing short of life-saving," NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said.
"Operator protection devices have been proven time and time again to shield riders in the event of a rollover preventing life-ending or life-altering injuries."
ACCC deputy chairman Mick Keogh said the changes would be an important step toward a necessary improvement to on-farm safety.
"We know that around 60 per cent of quad bike fatalities are caused by rollovers, and the operator dies from asphyxia in around half of these," Mr Keogh said.
"Research indicates that roughly 50 per cent of these operators would have survived the crash had they not been crushed or pinned by the quad bike."
Yamaha Motor Australia Director Brad Ryan said his company would be forced to stop selling the vehicles in Australia if roll-over protection became mandatory.
"The science behind the draft is both faulty and selective. Yamaha Motor Australia has advised the ACCC that behaviour is easily the biggest contributing factor to ATV safety," Mr Ryan said.
"We pointed out that three successive coronial inquiries have concluded that enforced behavioural standards rather than product modification are the solution. And that our industry is actively trying to change behavioural attitudes and would greatly appreciate support in achieving this."
In July the US referred Australia's mooted ban to the World Trade Organisation as a potential trade barrier.
In August Assistant Trade Minister Mark Coulton hinted that legal concerns may have motivated the WTO action.
"The United States has had a number of quad bike deaths and there's a feeling that an admittance by the manufacturers that a roll-over bar needs to be fitted might be about the legal aspects of the situation," Mr Coulton said.
The ACCC said in a statement it "strongly urges" state and territory governments to continue to support complementary safety measures, such as helmets, protective clothing, prohibiting children from riding adult-sized quad bikes, and a further rebate schemes to uptake of roll-over quad bikes currently in use.
The government has been under significant pressure to mandate roll-over protection after a prolonged campaign from the National Farmers' Federation, Australian Medical Association, Royal College of Surgeons, Rural Doctors Association of Australia, Royal Flying Doctor Service, National Rural Health Alliance, National Rural Women's Coalition, Country Women's Association of Australia, and the Australian Workers Union Labor and the Greens.