How the Mount Isa Statement led to quad bike safety measures

A quad-bike fitted with roll-bars.
A quad-bike fitted with roll-bars.

Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health professor Sabina Knight has welcomed changes to the laws on quad bikes.

With new federal government standards requiring all quad bikes be fitted with rollover protection from October 2021, Honda have announced they will stop selling quad bikes in Australia, following similar moves from Polaris and Yamaha.

There are reports of farmers across Australia buying multiple quad bikes and dealerships running out of stock as manufacturers look set to pull out of the Australian market.

However Professor Knight said that will simply mean that the remaining market will be dominated by manufacturers complying with safety standards and coming nine years after the Quad Bike Safety Mount Isa Statement, James Cook University was proud to be part of it.

Professor Sabina Knight, director of the Centre for Rural and Remote Health.

Professor Sabina Knight, director of the Centre for Rural and Remote Health.

"This is the standard we fought for, quad bikes will be inherently safer which I absolutely welcome," Professor Knight said.

"We will need to keep up the messaging that people will still need to know how to use them and under what circumstances and they also need to wear helmets like on any bike."

The Mount Isa Statement came out of observations and discussions Prof Knight had when she moved to Mount Isa from Central Australia almost a decade ago

"When I arrived in 2011 I did a tour of health facilities and hospitals and asked them what concerns you and consistently it came up as quad bike accidents," she said.

Professor Knight decided that the Centre for Rural and Remote Health, JCU needed to do something about it and teamed up with Richard Franklin and Tony Lower and Farm Safe Australia to bring together the national, local and international experts which resulted in the Mount Isa Statement on Quad Bike Safety presented at the James Cook University's Are You Remotely Interested conference held in Mount Isa in August 2012 and which was eventually published in academic journals in 2014.

Associate Professor Richard Richard Franklin, Professor Sabina Knight & Dr Tony Lower present the Mount Isa Statement on Quad Bike Safety.

Associate Professor Richard Richard Franklin, Professor Sabina Knight & Dr Tony Lower present the Mount Isa Statement on Quad Bike Safety.

The study found quad bikes were the leading cause of death in Australian agriculture, with half of these deaths resulting from rollovers and between 2001 and 2012, there were more than 160 such deaths in Australia.

"We found that quad bike incidents were not unfortunate accidents, they were accidents waiting to happen," Prof Knight said.

The statement recommended people select safer vehicles to use, fitting quad bikes with crush protection devices, not carrying passengers or overloading the quads, and wearing helmets.

Most of these recommendations are now in law and from October 11 2021, general use quad bikes must have a crush protection device fitted or integrated into its design so that, if the quad bike rolls over, the quad bike is held off the ground, and the rider can avoid injury or death as a result of being crushed or pinned by the weight of the quad bike.

There were 61 quad bike fatalities around Australia between 2015 and last year, according to Safe Work Australia. So far this year there have been nine deaths.

This story How the Mount Isa Statement led to quad bike safety measures first appeared on The North West Star.