RDAA condemn the Save the Quad Bike in Australia petition

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

A peak body representing rural doctors have condemned a petition fighting a law requiring new quad bikes to be fitted with safety devices, but the campaign founder says driver behaviour and awareness needs to change first.

From October 2021 new federal government standards will require all quads to be fitted with rollover protection devices.

Polaris and Yamaha have announced they will stop selling quad bikes in Australia because of this new rule and as of October next year Honda will also stop selling quad bikes in Australia.

A change.org petition from Save the Quad Bike in Australia has garnered nearly 24,000 signatures and the founder hopes to reach 30,000 and then take it to the government.

The campaign would like to see licensing, a national marketing schedule funded by the government on quad bike safety plus the dangers of allowing children to ride them and side-by-side vehicles, and more rider training.

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) said the pushback from quad bike manufacturers like Honda and Yamaha, plus petition Save the Quad Bike in Australia and AgForce Queensland on this law is gobsmacking.

"Their proposal for a paper-thin training and licencing program for quad bike users, as a replacement for a law requiring manufacturers to install operator protection devices (OPDs) on new quad bikes, is appalling," RDAA president Dr John Hall said.

"Given that quad bikes are invariably ridden on private land, how do they propose these so-called 'licences' will be policed? Do they understand the scale of some of the properties where quad bikes are used? These are not hobby farms...they are often thousands of square kilometres in size.

"We say to the groups fighting this law, including Save the Quad Bike in Australia - why don't you support what is clearly right and save the lives of quad bike riders instead?"

Dr Hall said the evidence is very clear and that is that OPDs save lives.

"Installing OPDs on new quad bikes will not add much to their overall cost, but it will save countless lives," he said.

"Half of all quad bike fatalities result from a rollover."

According to Safe Work Australia, as of August 13 there have been 14 quad bike fatalities in 2020.

Last year there were a total of eight deaths due to quad bikes, with the youngest fatality aged just seven-years-old.

Dalby motorcycle dealership owner and Save the Quad Bike in Australia founder Craig Hartley has been in the industry for more than 35 years.

He said instead of regulating OPDs he would like to see driver behaviour change and more safety awareness brought in to those who operate the machinery.

"It's a user problem, it's not a bike problem and we keep going back to this," the petition founder said.

"Where problems arise is when workers and other people come onto the farm.. we're pushing more awareness, licensing training and helmets."

His business Dalby Moto sells in the vicinity of 300 new and used Honda and Yamaha quad bikes per year.

"For me it's 40 per cent of my turnover and for many other dealers it's 50 or 60 per cent," Mr Hartley said.

"We call ourselves providers to the ag industry because quad bikes have taken over from the horse."

Where problems arise is when workers and other people come onto the farm.. we're pushing more awareness, licensing training and helmets.

Craig Hartley, Save the Quad Bike in Australia founder

Mr Hartley said the new law is really worrying for dealerships because it will create a turnover loss and it is worrying for farmers as productivity and efficiency will be lost.

"I'm not being the whinging business owner, but all business these days are pretty slim margins so to knock 40 per cent out of turnover the business won't be viable or saleable," he explained.

"I will have to either gear right back... or I'll have to consider closing the doors and there a lot of other dealers in the same boat, so it is worrying."

If you would further information on the the RDAA please visit www.rdaa.com.au.

Or to find out more on the Save the Quad Bike in Australia petition head to savethequadbike.wordpress.com

This story Rural doctors, motorcycle dealers butt heads on OPD debate first appeared on Western Magazine.