Call for care as quad bike toll rises

By Abby Gillies

Spate of crashes, the latest in Hawkes Bay, leads to riders being told to watch safety.

There were seven fatal quad-bike accidents last year. Photo / Getty Images
There were seven fatal quad-bike accidents last year. Photo / Getty Images

A number of quad-bike accidents ending in death and injury over the holidays have led to renewed calls for riders to take greater care.

On Saturday, Rakaia farmer Andrew Baxter was checking irrigators when he crashed, suffering fatal injuries. His death followed that of teenager Rowan Cai Parker, 16, who was killed on Boxing Day when he lost control of a quad bike in south Otago and drove over a cliff, falling 150m onto rocks.

Seven others have been seriously injured in quad-bike accidents recently, including 6-year-old Ashlee Shorrock, who suffered broken ribs, a broken arm, a broken collarbone and was put into an induced coma after the bike she was on with four adults crashed in Hawkes Bay. Yesterday a farm worker was injured when he crashed a quad bike, also in Hawkes Bay.

The accidents have prompted calls for better safety around bike use.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokeswoman Ona de Rooy urged farmers to consider their stress and fatigue levels.

"It can be as easy as forgetting to check the quad bike before you head out or making a small mistake when moving livestock because you're too tired. These can all lead to fatal consequences," she said. "We would like to see farmers make safety a priority in 2013."

But it was recreational users, not farmers, who were not getting the safety message, said Federated Farmers spokeswoman for health and safety Jeanette Maxwell.

There were seven fatal quad-bike accidents last year - two of those were recreational users, she said.

"The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment needs to look at how it is communicating safety messages to casual quad-bike users. Frankly, no one should be using a quad bike without the appropriate training and not all quad bikes are designed to carry two people."

Ms de Rooy said the ministry's campaign, aimed at reinforcing safety messages to reduce quad-bike injuries and deaths, would continue this year. Inspectors would also be checking how quad bikes were being used and imposing penalties where there were safety issues.

Chief Coroner Neil MacLean has previously voiced his concern over quad-bike deaths, saying simple safety messages could "go a long way to preventing these utterly unnecessary deaths".

Quad bikes were okay when used for the purpose for which they were designed but when pushed beyond that, or used by children, they became potentially dangerous, he said.

"I suspect that the key message is training and awareness that they're not toys."

Typically, five people will die and 850 will be injured each year in accidents involving quad bikes on farms, ministry figures show.

Recent accidents

December 26, 2012: Rowan Cai Parker, 16, was killed when he lost control of a quad bike in south Otago and drove over a cliff.
December 27: A Wairarapa man in his 60s suffered broken ribs after his quad bike rolled on a muddy hill.
January 3, 2013: Ashlee Shorrock, 6, suffered serious head injuries after the quad bike she was on with four adults crashed down a Hawkes Bay ditch. The adults were treated for serious injuries.
January 5: Andrew Baxter, 45, fell from his quad bike in Rakaia and suffered fatal injuries.
January 7: A 50-year-old farm worker suffered spinal injuries when he crashed in Hawkes Bay.

- APNZ

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