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Friday, 21 May 2021 10:55

Proposed ATV solution may not be the answer

Written by  David Crawford
David Crawford believes that wearing a helmet is shown to significantly reduce the severity of impact and potential trauma to the head in ATV accidents. David Crawford believes that wearing a helmet is shown to significantly reduce the severity of impact and potential trauma to the head in ATV accidents.

Recent media releases from Worksafe and ACC, picked up by media outlets, focused on workplace incidents on farms from the use of quad bikes – or All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs).

The story quoted figures stating, “ACC received 566 claims from people injured on a quad bike in 2020, down from 963 a decade ago.” Figures from WorkSafe show that in the decade from January 2011 to January 2021, there were 75 ‘vehicle incident’ fatalities in the agriculture sector.

However, data on its website doesn’t segment different vehicle types, making it impossible to understand whether ATVs, motorbikes, tractors, or another farm vehicle were involved.

Following an Official Information Act request, ACC provided data that shows fatalities are evenly spread across a range of farm vehicles. The on-farm fatality rate from ATV’s no higher than other vehicles. However, when it comes to prevention, ACC appears fixated on one measure above all other safety actions – Crush Protection Devices (CPDs).

In fact, to enhance the uptake of CPDs since July 2019, ACC has subsidised the purchase cost by providing $180 per unit for up to two ROP units.

With such a great offer, one would expect there to have been a significant rush to fit CPDs. However, my understanding is that take up of the subsidy has been minimal at best.

I believe there are better, more accessible alternatives, which could be implemented first and more likely to achieve much better outcomes.

Intrigued to find out whether there was a subsidy available for the purchase of helmets, I put the question to ACC. Its answer was “No!”

Surely wearing a helmet would be at the top of its safety list? Time and again, helmets have shown to significantly reduce the severity of impact and potential trauma to the head. They also lessen the overall cost of medical care compared to those in an accident without one.

WorkSafe’s own literature on ‘Safe Use of Quad Bikes’ states as the Number One rule, “Riders must be trained/experienced enough to do the job”. ACC recognises the value of training for improved safety outcomes in the Ride Forever Programme for motorcyclists.

That program has been completed by tens of thousands of riders, with a more than 30% measurable reduction in serious injuries and fatalities for riders, compared to those who haven’t undertaken the course. From an operational standpoint, I urge ATV riders to exercise common sense, minimise distractions. They must also ensure children don’t use a machine designed to be operated by adults.

ATVs need be used appropriately, by approved users who have received training, know what they are doing and always wear a helmet. Donning a helmet should become second nature, a muscle-memory habit, just like reaching for a seatbelt when you get into a car.

Alongside ensuring ATVs, along with all farm vehicles, are well maintained.

These steps are likely to lead to far better safety outcomes compared to the fitment of CPDs.

David Crawford is chief executive of the Motor Industry Association.

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