Quad bikes farms' biggest killer
The Victorian Farmers Federation is calling for farmers to take more care when using all-terrain vehicles, with an increasing number of fatal farm accidents involving their use.
Eight Australians have been killed so far this year due to quad bike accidents, with another 14 critically injured.
Victorian Farmers Federation Farmsafe Alliance Manager Tim McKenzie says since 2000, there had been 158 quad bike fatalities in Australia.
Quad bikes have now overtaken tractors as the leading cause of fatal farm accidents. Nearly one third (31 percent) of farm deaths in 2011 were caused by quad bikes, while 17 percent were tractor-related.
"And too many of these fatalities involve children under 16 years of age," McKenzie says.
"Quad bikes can be very useful farm vehicles, but I cannot stress enough that they need to be used with appropriate safety measures in place.
"It's not just farmers getting killed by these vehicles, but children and workers. These accidents reverberate through entire rural communities."
The most recent death was a nine-year-old boy, who was crushed to death by a quad bike on a property near Holbrook, New South Wales.
McKenzie says farmers had legal responsibilities to ensure safe quad bike use.
"Riders must wear helmets and other protective clothing, and farmers must make sure all quad bike riders are properly trained to use the vehicle and that the quad bikes are in safe operating condition.
"They must not allow children on these machines, which can weigh up to 500kg.
"It's up to the farmer to decide to install a crush protection device. It's not a legal requirement but evidence suggests their use should be seriously considered."
The safety warning comes after quad bike sales jumped by 18 per cent in 2011, making up more than one in every five motorcycles sold in Australia last year.
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