Safety is the number one priority of the ATV industry but proposals to fit crush protection devices to the vehicles could cause as many injuries as they prevent.

Any accident involving an all-terrain vehicle, or quad bikes as they are commonly known, is concerning and the industry always works to reduce risk.

Manufacturers take great care to make ATVs safer and the industry is promoting evidence-based improvements such as compulsory helmets, and restrictions on who can ride ATVs.

These industry measures are based on known safety practices, but proposals by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for mandatory Crush Protection Devices (CPDs) are not likely to reduce injuries and fatalities.

There is no conclusive scientific evidence that CPDs improve safety; in fact, some studies show that these devices might make ATV use less safe. The research showed that CPDs can cause injury by preventing the ATV from rolling away from the rider, can strike the rider and can cause asphyxiation. New, real world survey data corroborates previous studies that CPDs can cause as many serious injuries as they may prevent.

What the ACCC is proposing would require fitting CPDs and adoption of unproven engineering characteristics in a live experiment with real humans. Manufacturers cannot agree to fitting unproven devices or making changes to ATVs that are not based on sound scientific data and evidence to show that these changes will be safer. It is not ethical to make the consuming public a laboratory for gathering evidence to validate theories about safety – the evidence needs to be obtained before a safety rating system is implemented.

There have been three coronial inquests which investigated 29 deaths on ATVs, where CPDs were reviewed by experts, but none of these inquiries have recommended fitting CPDs.

Clearly more research is needed to assess the benefits and risks of CPDs before they are seriously considered. People’s lives cannot be experimented with.

In the meantime, this debate distracts from efforts to implement known successful safety practices.

Due to this lack of supporting evidence, the industry has indicated it won’t fit CPDs to ATVs. If other mandatory engineering changes were recommended, they must be accompanied by evidence to show they could reduce injuries, so far this vital evidence is missing from the ACCC proposal.

Manufacturers and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) believe there are better and safer options – as recommended by coroners – that should be enacted and promoted immediately.

These key recommendations include:

  • Mandating helmets for all ATV riders
  • Banning children aged under 16 from riding adult ATVs
  • Banning passengers from riding single-seat ATVs

If these proven measures were implemented now, we know that fatalities could be reduced by more than 50%.

Evidence shows that less than 10% of riders killed on ATVs were wearing a helmet and children aged under 16 were involved in 24% of accidents.

The FCAI recommendations, based on real-world evidence, could happen quickly, easily, at minimal cost and begin saving lives immediately.

Mark Collins, ATV safety expert for the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI)