Product Liability

ATV accidents killing Australian farmers at an alarming rate

The Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (ACAHS) released some alarming numbers concerning all-terrain vehicle safety at a conference held near Perth, Western Australia last month. Numbers pulled from the country’s national farm injury data reveal that one Australian farmer or child dies each month as a result of injuries received in accidents involving quad bikes (ATVs).

Australia prohibits manufacturers from calling their vehicles ATVs when there is no proof the vehicles can handle all types of terrain. Most of the four-wheeled open vehicles that drivers straddle like bicycles are classified as quads.

As in the United States and Canada, ATV sales have risen dramatically in Australia during the last couple of years. A report in Australia’s Farm Weekly says that nearly 15,000 quads were sold just to the country’s agricultural sector in 2008 alone.

In examining records of 107 quad deaths, ACAHS found that men are more likely to die in accidents involving the vehicles. Emily Herde, ACAHS data centre research manager, said that there is “a propensity for quad bikes to roll over and cause serious injury to riders.”

“There are 50 cases within the register that relate to the rollover of a quad bike. Of these, two were front rollovers, eight were side rollovers, nine were rear rollovers and the remaining 31 were unspecified,” Herne said.

According to Farm Weekly, “Solving the problem is proving to be very difficult, with some safety mechanisms like the U and T-shaped rollover protection systems proven to do more harm than good by Dynamic Research Inc in the U.S.”

The ACAHS reminded farmers “not to treat quad bikes as all terrain vehicles, with the industry having to change the name of the bikes from ATV to quad bikes because of proof that they cannot handle all terrains,” the Farm Weekly report said.