ACCC warns of quad bike dangers for kids

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning parents and carers to keep children away from quad bikes over the summer holidays.

ACCC warns of quad bike dangers for kids
The ACCC advises against the use of quads by children

A recent Medical Journal of Australia study indicated that children do not have the physical and cognitive capacity to operate quad bikes safely. The study found that children under 14 made up a third of hospital emergency departments visits for quad bike-related injuries in Victoria.

Sadly, 18 quad-bike related deaths have been reported in Australia this year. Two of these deaths were children under 14. In 2012, 19 quad bike-related deaths were reported in total with children under 14 accounting for five of those deaths.

"Quad bikes are especially popular during school holidays when they’re used recreationally but the ACCC is encouraging parents and carers to choose a safer, alternative outdoor activity," ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

"Uncertainty of terrain and where a child is up to in terms of their development, including their reaction times, increases the risk of accident."

Australian coronial data indicates the use of quad bikes was the second leading cause of unintentional deaths from injury on farms in 2003–2006.11

Recent statistics sourced from the media reveals quad bikes are the leading cause of on-farm trauma deaths (causing 28 deaths) in 2011 and 2012.12,13

Victoria has almost a quarter of Australia's farms and recorded the third-highest number of quad bike-related fatalities from 2001 to 2010.14

While there is robust evidence on fatal incidents, less is known about the morbidity imposed by quad bikes.

One Australian study assessing trauma in northern Queensland identified that 6.1 per cent of all vehicle incidents in which there was a fatality or a hospital admission of more than 24 hours involved quad bikes.

The medical Journal of Australia study finds between the 2002-3 and 2010-11financial years, there were 19 fatalities, 766 hospital admissions and 816 emergency department (ED) presentations as a result of quad bike incidents.

The peak age group for fatalities and admissions was 15–29 years (26.3 per cent and 27.9 per cent, respectively), with children 0–14 years being the most common group presenting to EDs (32.2 per cent).

Males were strongly overrepresented (84.2 per cent of fatalities, 73.8 per cent of admissions and 71.2 per cent of ED presentations).

Intracranial injury (26.3 per cent), fractures (15.8 per cent) and traumatic asphyxiation (15.8 per cnet) were the most common injuries among fatal cases.

Fractures accounted for half all admissions. Twenty-eight per cent of admissions were classified as "serious" and, over the 9-year study period, the frequency of admissions increased significantly by an estimated 41.4 per cent.

The study recommends a range of prevention approaches, such as mandatory fitting of crush protection devices to protect riders in the event of a roll over, are required.

Meanwhile, the ACCC urges parents and carers to follow these three key safety tips to keep children safe:

  • Never let children ride quad bikes that are meant for adults – it’s not worth the risk
  • Never let children be passengers on quad bikes
  • Do not ride anywhere near children

QUAD BIKE SAFETY TIPS

  • Wear safe
  • Always wear a helmet
  • Wear protective clothing and gear such as goggles, long sleeves, long pants, boots and gloves/hand protection

Ride safe

  • Quad bikes are not all-terrain vehicles so they cannot go safely on all types of terrain
  • Do not carry any passengers on quad bikes that are meant for one person
  • Ensure children are supervised at all times near any quad bike activity
  • Don’t let children be passengers on quad bikes
  • Never let children ride quad bikes that are meant for adults – it’s not worth the risk
  • Avoid riding on rough terrain or steep slopes
  • Never ride under the influence of alcohol/drugs
  • Ride on familiar tracks and beware of obstacles
  • Prepare safe
  • Ensure you are properly trained before you ride a quad bike
  • Maintain the bike so it is in safe condition
  • Read the operator manual and observe the manufacturer's safety warnings and recommended use of the vehicle

Further information on quad bike safety is available at www.productsafety.gov.au/quadbikes.

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