Editorial: Be safe while using quads

By Andrew Austin

During a visit to the South Island in the Christmas-New Year break, I went for a day to a holiday spot called Marfells Beach, in southern Marlborough.

It is a beautiful place with a lovely beach and a rather pleasant campsite right near the water.

The campsite was full of people and, while it was a little crowded for my liking, people were obviously enjoying themselves.

What concerned me though was the number of young children - and when I say young I am talking about 6-to-10-year-olds - riding quad bikes unsupervised around the campsite and beach.

One little girl, who did not look a day over 6, was driving (and I use the term very loosely) this huge machine, over which she had no control.

On another occasion there were two older boys, but still quite young, competing against each other on quad bikes.

Once again, I made sure I was nowhere near where they were driving because of the lack of control.

There were also some adults driving quad bikes and all the people I saw on a bike had one thing in common - none were wearing helmets.

Quad bikes are great to have at the beach and one does not want to stop people having fun, but a line has to be drawn. Sometimes the pursuit of fun leads to recklessness and recklessness causes accidents.

The issue of quad bike safety is a hot topic at the moment, with the quad bike accident on Waimarama beach last week still making headlines.

Four adults and 6-year-old Ashlee Shorrock were on a quad bike when it crashed down a ditch on Okaihua Rd, near Waimarama Beach, shortly before midnight on Wednesday.

Ashlee was taken to Starship Children's Hospital in a critical condition on Thursday but is now stable in intensive care.

She has five broken ribs, a broken arm, broken collar bone and has been in an induced coma.

A 20-year-old man is in a stable condition, while Ashlee's step-mother, Stephanie Lucas, and a 28-year-old man have been discharged from hospital.

Ms Lucas says the men had been drinking but denies she was intoxicated and says she can't remember who was driving.

Police are investigating the role of alcohol in the accident and have confirmed they took blood from all four adults on the night. Charges could be laid.

There are many claims and counter-claims flying around and the full picture of what happened has not come out yet, but there are a few things that should be noted.

Whichever way you look at it, five people on a quad bike seems to be at least two to many, and allowing a child to be perched on the front of the bike is probably not the wisest decision the adults involved have ever made.

Also going out late at night - with a child - after a few drinks is a regrettable decision.

Every single day around the country, quad bikes are used by responsible people, mainly farmers, without incident.

Once again it seems like a minority brings negative attention to a perfectly safe vehicle if operated correctly.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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