Experts are calling on Australian authorities to adopt a US state’s law banning children from quad bikes. The law passed in 2010 by the US state of Massachusetts banned all children aged 13 or younger from riding quad bikes. This followed the death of an eight-year-old boy named Sean.
So far this year, nine people- including two children have died in quad bike incidents in Australia, while in Massachusetts; only one child has died in the last ten years. This is the only state in the US to ban children under 13 years riding quad bikes.
Recent data shows the Sean’s Law in MA is saving lives. According to a study led by Michael Flaherty, from the Department Paediatric Critical Care at Massachusetts Hospital, the hospital reported a 50pc reduction in emergency department visits for kids aged 10-13 after the law was implemented.
“In the 10-to-13-year-olds we found a 50 percent reduction in emergency department visits for all-terrain vehicle and off-road vehicle-related injuries,” Dr. Flaherty.
“Similarly, in the 14-to-17-year-old age group, we found a 39 percent reduction in ER visits.
“And when comparing this to our comparison group, the adults, there was no statistical difference in change, pre- and post-law.”
Paediatric and neonatal general surgeon Peter Masiakos, who co-authored the study called on other US states to follow suit.
“Off-road vehicles, including ATVs, are as dangerous to their operators as any vehicle we allow on the highway,” Dr. Masiakos said.
“It stands to reason that these vehicles should be subject to at least as much regulation and control and that these regulations should include appropriate age restrictions.”
In March this year, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons called on state and territory governments to ban the use of quad bikes by children under 16, after a six-year-old girl died, and a 13-year-old, who was riding the quad bike suffered head injuries when their quad bike crashed into a tree in northwest NSW.
“Children simply do not have the physical mass, they don’t have the cognitive ability,” John Crozier, chair of the national trauma committee at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons said.
“They ride against the stipulation of the manufacturers if they ride, or are passengers on particularly the adult-sized quad bikes.
“Quads and kids simply don’t mix.”
Ways to prevent quad bike injuries and fatalities
- Critically assess whether a quad bike is the right vehicle for the job. In rural workplaces, it is advisable to use side by side vehicles because the operator remains seated and the vehicles are fitted with rollover protection devices. Motorbikes could be good for some tasks due to their mobility and lightweight.
- Towing attachments or carrying loads on the front or rear racks may affect stability and make it difficult to control a quad bike especially on rough terrain. Loads such as water tanks are particularly unstable as contents shift when cornering.
- Consider the terrain the vehicle will be used in- the risk of quad bike rollover increases when the terrain is steep, rocky uneven or muddy.
- Do not carry a passenger on a single person quad bike as most four-wheelers are designed for one rider.