It’s easy to believe that quad bikes are all-terrain vehicles that can get you anywhere, from the unsteady ground of hectare-wide farms to the roughest tracks imaginable. But that’s a belief that leads to a lot of incidents, and even deaths, on these vehicles that lose balance and roll so easily.
In fact, 106 people around Australia have died on a quad bike since 2011, highlighting the risks involved with these vehicles.
What happens if you’re injured on a quad bike?
Among the 1400 people seriously injured on quad bikes each year is one of our clients Tom*. The nine-year-old was riding as a passenger on his dad's quad bike, but was thrown from the quad when the bike hit a big patch of rocks. He suffered injuries to his knee and his back.
More than a decade later, he continued to suffer constant pain, which impacted his ability to continue working in a pub. After three knee reconstructions, he concluded he'd need training for a different line of work.
Tom contacted us armed with questions about whether the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) would fund this retraining.
Quad bikes are often considered motor vehicles under the road laws, meaning it’s usually possible to lodge a claim with the road compensation scheme when an injury has been sustained. Whether you’re entitled to compensation and the type of compensation you may be entitled to depends on a number of variables, including which state you’re in, whether the quad bike has been registered, where the accident occurred, and whether you’re the driver or a passenger. These complexities mean it’s best to seek legal advice if you’re injured on a quad bike.
In Tom’s case, we were able to reach a sizeable lump sum settlement with the TAC in addition to the payment of his medical expenses and lost wages.
This has enabled Tom to retrain for a new role (he’s now working as a bookkeeper) and to have some financial stability in case things go wrong in the future.
Ways to stay safe on a quad bike
The risks are great, but there are many ways to help prevent a quad bike accident.
- Do a training course
There’s a lack of awareness about the dangers of quad bikes. People think they’re easy-to-ride vehicles that can go anywhere, but many accidents occur on unstable terrain like rocks, inclines, ditches, embankments and mud.
Riding a quad takes skill and involves taking an active riding technique, where the rider shifts the weight of their body to help prevent stability issues. Beginner riders are advised to start off on flat roads and tracks, and then build up to careful off-road riding as skills increase.
With 30 per cent of quad bike deaths in 2016 work related, the workplace safety bodies in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria are offering rebates for quad bike training and support for transitioning to alternative vehicles.
- Rollover protection is important
Half of the fatalities involving quad bikes are caused by rollovers, which can result in being crushed or asphyxiated. Considering ways to make the vehicles safer in the case of a rollover is, therefore, vital. Victoria is the first state to make rollover protection legally required on quad bikes in the workplace.
- Helmets should be worn
More than a third of quad bike fatalities weren’t wearing helmets. In most states, a helmet is mandatory when riding a quad bike on the road or in the workplace. However, with most quads ridden on farms and off-road, it’s up to the individual rider to kit themselves out with an approved helmet for their own safety.
- Don’t carry passengers
Authorities warn that quad bikes are built for one rider only, and aren’t safe to hold passengers.
- Keep children off quad bikes
Research from the Queensland University of Technology says children under the age of 16 simply don’t have the physical and cognitive ability to ride a quad bike.
The risks are high when children are passengers like Tom, with almost one in seven fatalities being kids. In Queensland, it’s now illegal for children under the age of eight to be passengers on quad bikes; a smart move that should be considered in other states too.
By taking the necessary precautions, you can help protect yourself in the event of a quad bike accident.