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.
About quad bikes
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 standard does not apply to side-by-side vehicles.
Risks and injuries
There have been at least 136 fatalities associated with quad bike use during 2011–19. 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. 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) 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.
On 23 June 2021, the safety standard was amended to provide that quad bikes ordered by dealers before 1 July 2021 are exempt from the stage 2 requirements that commence from 11 October 2021. The exception does not apply if the order is subject to a condition that the quad bike will be supplied to the dealer after 31 December 2021.
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, 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, you should fit an OPD. 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.