Classrooms were shut for the first day of term four last year at
Kahutara School in honour of 10-year-old student Shane White, who
was killed in a quad bike accident on a farm in South Wairarapa.
Just a day after Shane's tragic accident, an Australian woman
suffered a serious head injury in a quad bike accident on a farm
near Port Waikato.
In November, an Okauia farmer bought a helmet for the farm quad
bike. Ten days later he was riding his quad bike over a crossing
when the crossing collapsed. The handlebars struck him on the head
and he was pinned underneath the quad bike. He survived. The helmet
was completely cracked in the accident and is credited for saving
All terrain vehicles – including quad bikes – are
part of everyday rural life. They are the most widely used motor
vehicle on New Zealand farms, with an estimated 100,000 in daily
use around the country.
On average, 850 people are injured and five die every year while
riding quad bikes on New Zealand farms.
Over the past three years, ACC has paid out $29 million in
claims involving quad bikes and other all-terrain vehicles (this
includes motorbikes with three or four wheels). There have been
11,084 claims for injuries and 26 accidental death claims for
deaths involving quad bikes and other ATVs since 2008.
Over recent years, concerted efforts have been made to reinforce
the safe use of quad bikes, and the Ministry of Business,
Innovation and Employment ("MBIE") will be continuing its
Quad Bike Safety Campaign this year. The key messages of the
Always wear a helmet
Make sure riders are experienced or trained
Never let kids ride adult quad bikes; and
Choose the right vehicle for the job.
The Ministry has recently warned that farmers can expect to see
inspectors who will be checking how quad bikes are used and
penalties will follow if unsafe practices are observed.
Farmers have the same duties under health and safety legislation
as other employers and risk significant penalties (up to $250,000)
if someone working on the farm is injured or killed. Under health
and safety legislation, an employer must take all practicable steps
to ensure the safety of its employees. This implies that guidelines
set out by the Ministry should be followed.
The Ministry is resisting a call from some safety advisors to
make roll bars compulsory on quad bikes, preferring to educate
users and encourage them to adopt a responsible and proactive
approach to safety. The Ministry suggests that quad bike riders
always wear a helmet, establish "no-go zones" on
dangerous or rough terrain and set appropriate speed limits
relevant to particular areas of the farm, tasks or weather/track
It is up to individual farmers to ensure increased safety when
using quad bikes (and all terrain vehicles) on the farm. This may
well involve a significant change in the attitude and culture of
New Zealand farmers and is likely to involve the Ministry taking a
harder line surrounding quad bikes. Such a change, although likely
to be met with resistance, is one that is necessary to avoid
farmers paying the ultimate price.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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