University of NSW tests with quad bikes and dummies have shown how bikes can crush a driver in a rollover (Photo: UNSW)

September 24, 2020

The Motor Trades Association of Queensland – the peak body which represents automotive dealers – has called for more tests ahead of the introduction of compulsory new safety devices on quad bikes.

There has been a boom in sales of quad bikes and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) ahead of the planned introduction of new safety compliance standards by the Federal Government.

Manufacturers Honda, Yamaha and Polaris have stated they will quit the Australian market due to these new standards, sparking a rush on existing stock.

The new standards include compulsory roll-over measures and the mandatory fitting of Operator Protection Devices (OPDs).

In October 2019, the Federal Government gave manufacturers two years to comply with new legislation.

Safety stickers had to be installed within 12 months and roll-over bars as standard within 24 months. The laws come fully into effect next year.

The MTAQ said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had stood by the introduction despite many dealers claiming OPDs were not proven to improve safety.

The association said that on August 28, the American Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released the results of a study evaluating the efficacy of OPDs on ATVs.

It said the results were “overwhelmingly inconclusive” regarding the safety effectiveness of the devices.

According to the MTAQ, the CPSC report states that “neither the Quad Bar nor Lifeguard OPDs reduced the relative number of interactions between the ATV and ATD (crash test dummy) at final rest”. The report also states “the OPDs did not reduce the occurrence of the ATV ending up on top of the dummy’s pelvis, abdomen, thorax or head”.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries claims there are recorded cases in Australia where OPDs have seriously injured the rider.

MTAQ Group Chief Executive Dr Brett Dale said that in light of the CPSC findings, there should be further testing of OPDs.

He asked that the ACCC consider further evidence of their effectiveness “before a blanket safety standards approach damages the industry”.

“MTA Queensland supports sensible safety policy, but there appears to be insufficient evidence to support the ACCC’s current position on OPDs,” Dr Dale said.

“This proposed legislation will not only hurt businesses, but also farmers when the manufacturers withdraw from Australian markets.”

According to Safe Work Australia, between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2018 there were 128 quad bike fatalities in Australia.

Of these, more than a third were adults aged over 60 and almost half were workers.

Seventy-seven of the fatalities were the result of a rollover and 78 occurred on a farm or property.

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