Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Waikato farmer dies in quad bike crash

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A man was killed in a quad bike crash in Waikato on Tuesday; the latest in a string of quad bike deaths which have frustrated the chief coroner.

The 44-year-old farmer was driving the vehicle on steep ground on a farm on McLean Rd, Mangakino, when it tipped over.

Chief coroner Neil MacLean said details of the incident were unclear at this stage and it was not known whether the man was wearing a helmet.

His death is the second from quad bike crashes so far this year, the third since Boxing Day, and the 37th since 2008.

Mr MacLean was frustrated by the large number of quad bike deaths around the country.

"When it [the news of the death] came in I did think 'Oh no, not again'."

A health and safety inspector and a pathologist were conducting inquiries, and would report their findings to Mr MacLean.

He said there were some common themes to quad bike fatalities.

"[Quad bikes] are inherently unstable, you need proper training to know how to ride them not just sit on them, and a crash helmet or protective head gear of some sort is a good idea.

"There are also some grey areas where there are differences of opinion, including things like safety harnesses or roll-over protection devices."

Last year the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment launched a safety campaign after several quad-bike deaths across the country.

On average, 850 people are injured while riding quad bikes on farms each year, with five deaths.

However, the number of annual deaths has risen sharply in recent years, prompting the ministry to release several safety guidelines.

The guidelines say quad bike riders must be trained/experienced enough to do the job; should choose the right vehicle for the job; always wear a helmet, and children should not ride adult quad bikes.

Farmers who don't follow those safety steps risk penalties under the Health and Safety in Employment Act if someone working on their farm is seriously injured or killed.

The ministry also recommends that quad bikes be maintained in a safe condition; riders take care on slopes and rough terrain; don't exceed the capabilities of the bike; don't do tasks that interfere with safe riding and keep both hands on the bike, with eyes on the ground in front.

Later this month, Northland Coroner Brandt Shortland will hold inquests into the 2010 deaths of Arapohue farmer and builder Carlos Mendoza, Marua farmer Jack McInnes, and Suzanne Claudia Ferguson, all of whom died after quad bike accidents on farms within eight weeks of one another.

TIMELINE


December 26, 2012 - Rowan Cai Parker, 16, was killed when he lost control of a quad bike in the Chaslands area of South Otago and drove over a cliff. He fell 150 meters on to rocks.

December 27 - A Wairarapa man aged in his 60s suffered broken ribs after the quad bike he was riding rolled on a muddy hill.

January 3, 2013 - Ashlee Shorrock, 6, suffered serious head injuries after the quad bike she was riding on with four adults crashed down a Hawkes Bay ditch. The four adults, including the girl's father and stepmother, were treated for serious injuries.

January 5 - Farm worker Andrew Baxter, 45, died after falling from his quad bike in Rakaia.

January 7 - A 50-year-old farm worker suffered spinal injuries when he crashed his quad bike in Hawkes Bay.

January 24 - A farmer suffered serious injuries after his quad bike rolled more than 20 metres down a bank in Waikato.

March 12 - A man is killed in a quad bike crash on a Mangakino farm.

- APNZ

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