Science

Quad bike safety experts meet at UNSW

A crash test dummy on one of the quad bikes to be tested
Thursday, 20 December, 2012

Thirty of the world’s leading experts in quad bike safety assembled at UNSW this week as part of a project to improve the safety of the vehicles.

The $1 million quad bike crash performance research, testing and design project is being undertaken by the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA), the body representing Australasia’s work health and safety regulators.

The NSW-funded research is being conducted at the UNSW Transport and Road Safety research facilities as part of a National Quad Bike Safety Strategy examining design features to improve vehicle safety as well as protective devices and accessories.

This week’s meeting involved members of the project’s reference group receiving an update on the project’s status as well as a tour of the Crashlab facility where the vehicles will be tested.

The study will involve eight work quad bikes, three recreational quad bikes and four side-by-side vehicles.

Chair of the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA), John Watson, says more than 150 Australians have died from quad bike incidents since 2000 and almost 9 out of 10 rollover deaths occur on farms.

The meeting at UNSW was an opportunity to get the input of the world’s leading safety experts on quad bikes.

“Researchers, regulators, manufacturers and the farming community acknowledge that we need to work together to improve quad bike safety,” Mr Watson said.

“The project involves a series of crash tests to identify engineering and design enhancements which could improve quad bike safety. By bringing the project reference group together, we can ensure we are conducting the most effective crash tests according to common incident types. Based on the results of the tests, this will enable us to determine whether safety enhancements and improvements to protective devices and accessories are necessary.”

Raphael Grzebieta, Professor of Road Safety at UNSW, said his team had been involved with quad bike safety for more than a decade. As part of the new research, testing will be undertaken using a specially designed tilt-table installed at the NSW Government Crashlab facility to determine the propensity of the quads to roll over and determine severe injury risk.

“This project is a great opportunity to advance the safety of these vehicles which are potentially hazardous for farmers and others,” Professor Grzebieta said.

HWSA established a trans-Tasman quad bike industry working group comprised of work health and safety regulators from Australia and New Zealand plus manufacturers, unions, automotive associations and farming associations to implement a National Quad Bike Safety Strategy aimed at identifying safety improvements for the quad bike and farm industries to reduce fatalities and injuries. This group developed a broad strategy to address the range of issues impacting quad bike safety.

Since the commencement of the strategy a number of measures have been implemented including the piloting of a nationally recognised rider training course for farmers, mandatory wearing of Australia New Zealand standard approved helmets and improved point of sale material to help farmers purchase the best vehicle for their needs.

The industry strategy can be found on the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities website.
Media contacts:

UNSW: Deborah Smith 9385 7307, 0478 492 060 Deborah.Smith@unsw.edu.au

HWSA   4321 5474 or 0413 186 799