Matt Greenop: Coroner's right, kids and quad bikes don't mix

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ATVs are brilliant vehicles - anyone with more than one pair of gumboots knows that. But never-ending reports of deaths from their irresponsible use are puzzling. Photo / Michael Cunningham
ATVs are brilliant vehicles - anyone with more than one pair of gumboots knows that. But never-ending reports of deaths from their irresponsible use are puzzling. Photo / Michael Cunningham

ATVs are brilliant vehicles - anyone with more than one pair of gumboots knows that. But never-ending reports of deaths from their irresponsible use are puzzling.

These tragedies are generally avoidable, especially when it comes to kids using them.

Chief Coroner, Judge Neil MacLean hit the nail on the head when he said: "I endorse the principle that kids and quad bikes don't mix." Outgoing Motor Industry Association boss Perry Kerr (his organisation's members include importers and distributors of ATVs and similar) came out saying the same.

"The industry has been promoting for at least the last 20 years the key points for the safe operation of an ATV. Last year the Department of Labour (now part of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment) commenced an education programme with the support of Federated Farmers, targeting the farming community," he said.

The strategy included five important points - always wear a helmet; ensure riders are trained / experienced; don't let children under 16 ride adult ATVs; don't carry passengers; use the right vehicle for the job.

"Adult ATVs are not toys and parents and guardians should not allow children under 16 to ride them under any circumstances," he said. "Every adult-size ATV has labels attached clearly stating this age limit. There are small ATVs manufactured specifically for children and they should be restricted to riding these."

If anyone let their kid drive their car on a farm, and it resulted in death, they'd be flayed for being irresponsible. I nearly broke my neck riding one up a tree when I was too inexperienced to know what I was doing. Luckily, there were people around to pull the thing off me.

What should be done about vehicle safety on farms? Should there be special training courses for farm kids so they know what they're doing - maybe a 'licence' as such? Hard to enforce, but possibly a good way to draw attention to those who aren't being properly trained.

- NZ Herald

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