The Motor Industry Association (MIA) is calling for mandatory safety rules for the use of quad bikes and small utility vehicles in the workplace, after several coronial inquests.

The inquests revealed new rules would reduce serious injuries and fatalities, which prompted the call to the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety for compulsory regulations.

The association called for helmets to be made compulsory, children under 16 to be forbidden from riding adult size quad bikes and passengers to be banned from single seat bikes.

Association chief executive David Crawford said the safe use of small vehicles, farm bikes, ATV (All-Terrain Vehicles) and side-by-side vehicles is "of paramount importance to manufacturers, distributors, dealerships and their customers".


The MIA also requested the Government consider compulsory seat belts to be used where they are fitted by the manufacturer of side-by-side vehicles.

However, former Central Hawke's Bay mayor and farmer Peter Butler said it should be up to the individual whether they wear helmets.

Butler has owned 103 motorbikes, three-wheelers and side-by-sides in his farming career, which had travelled about 1,650,000km cross-country and none have caused casualties.

"I'd say there are more head injuries in Auckland city in motor vehicles than there are on all the farms in New Zealand.

"When I see everyone on the Auckland motorway wearing helmets, I'll wear a helmet."

Butler said along with the discomfort of fibreglass during colder and warmer months, the calls would affect the childhood of New Zealanders and what has always been our culture.

From when Butler's kids were preschoolers "they hopped on the back of the motorbike and the four-wheeler".

"This is a lifestyle that every kid in New Zealand had and once upon a time, everybody in New Zealand had a relation on the farm, knew someone, and had holidays the farm.


"What are you going to do with kids nowadays, wrap them up in cotton wool and leave them at home?"

Butler said he questioned the reality of who would police these regulations due to the fact 95 per cent of New Zealand cannot be seen from the road.

MIA would have better luck reducing injuries by looking after the roads and forgetting about our farmers, he said.

Farmer Tim Gilbertson said he understood the safety concerns that prompted compulsory regulations but safety is achieved through education, common sense and training.

"It's almost an overreaction to a problem, because you're never going to stop people taking kids out to feed the chooks or put a helmet on to drive 50m across a paddock."

Gilbertson said although MIA has good intentions, kids would not be able to learn how to drive safely on ATVs if they are banned until age 16.


He said the laws would be impossible to police, and education and enforcing mandatory roll-over bars would instead reduce more injuries.

"Most people that get killed by farm bikes are not from head injuries, they're actually crushed.

"Every tractor has to have a roll-over bar by law and it's saved countless lives."