Farm quad bikes to get mandatory roll bars

Quad bikes sold in Australia will have mandatory roll bars within two years under new federal rules.
Quad bikes sold in Australia will have mandatory roll bars within two years under new federal rules.

New quad bikes sold in Australia will have mandatory roll bars within two years under beefed-up safety rules aimed at saving farmers' lives.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar announced the change on Thursday after sustained pressure from the agriculture lobby, with the new regulations also forcing bikes to have roll warnings within a year.

"This safety standard aims to address the high risk of rollovers, which is especially important for many of our farmers and their families who use these vehicles daily," he said in a statement.

Since 2001, 230 people have died in quad bike incidents and thousands more injured.

An average of 16 people a year have been killed on quad bikes since 2011 and an estimated six people a day present to emergency, with at least two of these admitted with serious injuries.

"Quad bikes are the leading cause of fatalities in Australia of all consumer products that aren't regulated," Mr Sukkar said.

National Farmers' Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said protection devices had been proven to shield riders when bikes rolled over.

"Today's result is nothing short of life-saving," he said.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Competition recommended in February four-wheel motorbikes be sold with rollover protection.

Leading quad bike manufacturer Honda released a scathing statement in response to the decision.

The company accused "special interest groups" of lobbying for an effective end of quad bikes in Australia rather than have members wear a helmet or keep children off the vehicles.

Aside from the NFF, the Australian Medical Association, Royal College of Surgeons, Rural Doctors Association of Australia, Royal Flying Doctor Service and National Rural Health Alliance backed the roll bars.

The National Rural Women's Coalition, Country Women's Association of Australia and the Australian Workers' Union also supported the safety measures.

Honda Australia's managing director of motorcycle and power equipment Robert Toscano said it was an extremely disappointing day for farm safety and people who rely on the bikes.

"Honda's position has always been to put farmer safety first. The final standard released this morning fundamentally fails," he said.

"As it looks, in two years' time we will be forced to cease supply of quad bikes in Australia."

Yamaha also previously threatened to stop selling quad bikes in Australia if the government mandated roll bars.

Both manufacturers question the research around roll protection devices, labelling the science faulty and defective.

ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said 60 per cent of quad bike deaths were caused by rollovers, with the driver dying from asphyxia in half of those.

"Research indicates that roughly 50 per cent of these operators would have survived the crash had they not been crushed or pinned by the quad bike," he said.

Under the regulations, all new bikes will have to meet US or European standards and display stability test results in the vehicle, within a year.

Within two years, the vehicles will have to meet minimum stability requirements and be fitted with roll bars.

Australian Associated Press