Quad bike fatalities have almost doubled in 2020 compared to last year

19 August 2020

In the first six months of 2020, 14 people, including three children, have died in quad bike-related accidents in Australia, compared to eight in the whole of last year. Seven of this year’s fatalities have been in Queensland.

Quad bike accidents are the leading cause of death and severe injuries on Australian farms. Since 2011, 150 people have died from quad bike related accidents, 23 of whom have been children. In addition, six people present to hospital each day as a result of quad bike related injuries.

This is why the Australian Government has introduced a Quad Bike Safety Standard, the first stage of which takes effect on 11 October this year.

“Quad bikes are an important part of rural life but the ongoing fatalities and serious injuries are incredibly concerning. They highlight the importance of this new safety standard,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said. 

“For many years, manufacturers have been claiming rider behaviour is the major reason for the number of deaths and injuries. Their aim has been to shift the focus away from the unsafe design of quad bikes.”

“The truth of the matter is, the inherent instability of quad bikes causes them to frequently roll over. It has been reported that at least eight of the fatalities so far this year involved rollovers, with four of them resulting in crush injuries,” Mr Keogh said.

The design limitations of quad bikes mean many people – including experienced, mature operators – are getting seriously injured or killed, despite operating them in line with the vehicles’ marketed uses.

Research from the University of New South Wales indicates that almost half of quad bike accidents involved riders who had 20 or more years of experience operating them, while less than two per cent of accidents involved an operator with less than three years’ experience.

“As 11 October draws closer, misinformation and scare campaigns from groups opposed to the new safety standard have ramped up, and that’s been very disappointing to see,” Mr Keogh said.

“Top of the list is the suggestion that because some quad bike manufacturers have threatened to stop selling in Australia due to the new safety requirements, farmers will lose a critical piece of farm machinery. If a manufacturer withdraws from Australia, others will willingly step in to provide the safer quad bikes.”

“We’ve also heard nonsense claims that improved quad bike stability and rollover protection devices, as required under the safety standard, will increase fatalities as riders will have a false sense of security.”

“If this argument was applied to the design of cars, none of the modern safety features would be available, and the nearly 70 per cent decline in road fatalities since the mid-1970s would not have occurred.”

“Of course, it is important to always ride safely but the new safety measures will go a long way to reducing deaths as they are designed to reduce the frequency and impact of quad bike rollovers,” Mr Keogh said.

“Federal and state governments have spent significant money on education campaigns, training, rebate schemes, and Honda and Yamaha also provide accredited training courses. Yet, quad bike fatalities continue to occur at an unacceptable rate, and that shows education and training alone is not an adequate long-term solution.”

The ACCC has produced two new videos to help consumers and suppliers understand the new safety standard ahead of its introduction later this year. One of the ACCC’s videos, shot in country Victoria, shows how easily a quad bike can tip over and trap its rider. It is to remind consumers about the risks of riding quad bikes and to inform them about what to look for when purchasing a quad bike that complies with the new standard. A second video shows what suppliers must do to comply with the new standard.

“We encourage farmers and their families to watch the videos to familiarise themselves with the standard, be safe when using quad bikes, and protect the lives of loved ones,” Mr Keogh said.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and it is crucial that people continue to wear helmets and the appropriate safety gear, do all the necessary training, and do not let children ride adult quad bikes.”

The ACCC is also reminding consumers to be mindful of the risks associated with riding side-by-side vehicles (SSVs), which can be similar to quad bikes.

SSVs offer a greater of level of protection because of their increased stability, roll cage, seat belts, doors and nets, but many fatalities involving these vehicles occur when these safety measures are not used.

“We have seen an increase in in fatalities and serious injuries linked with SSVs because people are not practicing safe use. Always wear a helmet and use a seat belt every time you get into these vehicles,” Mr Keogh said.

More information for consumers and businesses or suppliers is available on the Product Safety Australia website.

Fast facts

  • Since 2011, sadly, 150 people have died from quad bike accidents. 23 of those were children.
    • Quad bike deaths occur during both work and recreational activities
    • Nearly two thirds of quad bike related deaths are caused by a rollover, and three quarters of deaths occur on a farm
    • Seventy per cent of those killed since 2011 have been older than 30 years of age
  • There have been 14 people reported to have died so far in 2020.
    • 3 have been children aged between 10-12
    • 8 of the incidents resulted in the quad bike rolling over
    • In 4 of the incidents, the victim was crushed or pinned by the quad bike
    • 50 per cent (7) of fatalities have been located in Queensland. 2 were in NSW, 2 in Victoria, 1 in Western Australia, 1 in Tasmania, and 1 in the Northern Territory

Notes to editors

In October 2019, the Federal Government accepted the ACCC’s recommendation to introduce a new mandatory safety standard for quad bikes.

The safety standard has two stages:

Stage 1: 11 October 2020

All new quad bikes, and directly imported second-hand quad bikes must:

  • meet the specified requirements of the US quad bike Standard, ANSI/SVIA 1-2017 or the EN 15997:2011 Standard
  • be tested for lateral static stability using a tilt table test and display the angle at which they tip onto two wheels on a hang tag at the point of sale
  • have a durable label affixed, visible and legible when the quad bike is in operation, alerting the operator to the risk of rollover, and must include rollover safety information in the owner’s manual.

Stage 2: 11 October 2021

All new and directly imported second hand general-use model quad bikes must:

  • be fitted with, or have integrated into the design, an operator protection device
  • meet the minimum stability requirements of: – lateral stability—must not tip on to two wheels on a slope less than 28.81 degrees – front and rear longitudinal pitch stability—must not tip on to two wheels on a slope less than 38.65 degrees.
Release number: 
172/20
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