Quad bikes have a number of design features that create risks for users, particularly when used on uneven or sloped ground. Losing control of a quad bike can cause it to flip or rollover causing death or serious injury.
A quad bike (also known as an all-terrain vehicle or ATV) is an off-road motorised vehicle that travels on four wheels, with a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control. All vehicles that meet this description, including those that are propelled by a combustion engine and an electric engine, are considered to be quad bikes.
Quad bike models are categorised as:
- general use models (commonly marketed as utility, work or agricultural models)
- youth models (also marketed as fun models) and transition models
- sports models.
Quad bikes in the general use category typically have:
- front and rear cargo racks
- a hitch for towing
- one or two seats (Type 1 or Type II quad bikes).
The images below are examples of the different categories of quad bikes.
|General use model - Type I (one seat)||General use model - Type II (two seats)|
The standard does not apply to side-by-side vehicles.
There have been at least 128 fatalities associated with quad bike use during 2011–18. Around 15 per cent of deaths involve children. More than half of all quad bike deaths are because of rollovers. The main causes of death by rollovers are asphyxiation, crush and head injuries.
Quad bikes are one of the leading causes of death and serious injury on Australian farms.
The risk of a rollover increases if the quad bike is travelling on uneven ground or slopes, travelling at high speed, towing an attachment or carrying a heavy or unstable load.
Risks of a serious incident are also increased when operators:
- are inexperienced
- carry passengers
- do not have the physical strength to ride actively
- are under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- are not wearing suitable personal protective equipment such as a helmet.
Children are at greater risk of serious injury and death while operating quads. Adult sized quad bikes should not be operated by children. Even the smaller youth quads have been involved in fatal incidents in Australia.
Quad bike accidents are common and can happen very easily, so always take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and children.
Suppliers must comply with a safety standard when they sell you a new quad bike. This standard specifies requirements for all quad bikes supplied from 11 October 2020 and additional requirements for general use quad bikes supplied from 11 October 2021. The standard does not apply to second-hand quad bikes other than those imported into Australia.
From 11 October 2020, suppliers must:
- hang a tag on the quad bike that allows you to compare the safety of models prior to purchase
- fix a durable warning label to the quad bike that warns the user of the quad bike of the risk of rollover
- include, in the owner’s manual, information on the risk of rollover, and
- meet certain requirements in the US or European standards for quad bikes.
From 11 October 2021, general use quad bikes must also:
- have an operator protection device (OPD) attached to help protect riders from the risk of serious injury or fatality as a result of being crushed or pinned in the event of a rollover by holding the quad bike off the ground, and
- meet minimum stability requirements.
The hang tag will tell you the minimum angle at which the quad bike tipped sideways on to two wheels when it was tested. Quad bikes with higher numbers are more stable.
The hang tag will allow you to compare the stability of different models within a particular category of quad bikes. For example, if you are looking for a youth quad bike, you can compare the stability of different models of youth quad bikes. The hang tag should not be used to compare across categories, for example, to compare a youth quad bike with a general use quad bike, as the stability tests are different.
Rollover warning label
The rollover warning label is a permanent label fixed to the quad bike to remind the user about the risk of rollovers, and how to avoid them.
Operator protection devices (OPDs)
Sixty per cent of quad bike fatalities occur when the quad bike rolls over.
From 11 October 2021, general use quad bikes must have an OPD fitted or integrated into its design so that, if the quad bike rolls over, the quad bike is held off the ground, and the rider can avoid injury or death as a result of being crushed or pinned by the weight of the quad bike.
The images below show the two models of OPDs specified in the safety standard. A device that offers the same or better level of protection can also be used.
Under the standard, quad bike and after-market OPD manufacturers can develop their own designs for innovative OPDs to protect operators. For example, the Quadbar model has been upgraded to the Quadbar Flexi.
If a supplier does not comply with the safety standard, the supplier may be in breach of the Australian Consumer Law which can result in fines and penalties. If you think that a supplier has contravened the safety standard, you can report this to the ACCC.
Follow these safety steps when using quad bikes to help you, your loved ones, friends and work colleagues stay safe.
- Decide if a quad bike is the right vehicle for the activity.
- When you purchase a new quad bike from 11 October 2020, use the hang tag to compare the stability of different models.
- If you purchased a quad bike for a farm before the requirements in the safety standard commenced, see if your state or territory provides a rebate to improve the safety of the quad bike.
- Ensure you are properly trained before you ride a quad bike.
- Maintain the bike so it is in safe condition.
- Read the owner's manual and observe the manufacturer's safety warnings and recommended use of the vehicle.
- Before you leave for a quad bike ride, always tell someone where you plan to go and when you expect to return.
- Always wear a helmet.
- Wear protective clothing and gear such as goggles, long sleeves, long pants, boots and gloves/hand protection.
- Never let children ride quad bikes that are meant for adults — even as passengers.
- Do not carry any passengers on quad bikes that are meant for one person.
- Quad bikes are not all-terrain vehicles so they cannot go safely on all types of terrain. Avoid riding on rough terrain or steep slopes.
- Ride on familiar tracks and beware of obstacles.
- Never ride under the influence of alcohol/drugs.
- Ensure children are supervised at all times near any quad bike activity.
- Always carry a mobile phone or radio device so you can contact for help in case of an emergency.
Watch these videos to see some of the potential dangers quad bikes can pose.