Driving a quad on public roads: What you should know

A quad bike is an important vehicle for a number of farmers around the country – but are all quad owners fully up-to-date with regulations around the use of quads when using a public road?

Following on from a warning made by An Garda Síochána in relation to the use of quads on public roads earlier this week, AgriLand had a look at the Road Safety Authority (RSA) explanation on the regulations around driving such machines.

First off, “if used on a public road which includes a footpath”, quads and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are subject to all of the regulatory controls that apply to other mechanically propelled vehicles (MPVs); they must be roadworthy, registered, taxed and comply with standard road regulations, while the driver should possess the relevant driving licence.

The RSA notes that quads can tow trailers on a public road, provided that the quad meets with all the regulatory requirements for road use.

You should hold the appropriate driving licence for that vehicle combination and the loaded weight of the trailer must not exceed the quad’s towing capacity.

You should refer to the owner’s manual or contact original manufacturer for its towing capacity, the authority adds.

Quad bikes used in a public place require the driver to have a licence. Therefore, the minimum age is 16 for light quads 350kg or less with a maximum design speed of not more than 45kph; otherwise it is 17 years.

Minors using quad bikes on private property fall under the remit of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

While helmets are not (yet) a legal requirement on public roads, they are strongly recommended, the RSA says, with the legal element to be reviewed in conjunction with the Department of Transport.

It is illegal to carry children on a public road in a quad towing a trailer, and passengers should not be carried on quads in general, unless the ATV in question “has been originally manufactured to carry a passenger”.

For off-road quads seeking to use the public road to get from one field to another, the RSA says that quads are subject to all the MPV regulatory controls – but adds that enforcement of these is a matter for An Garda Síochána, “so ultimately the discretion lies with them”.

Off-road quad tyres can only be used on a public road if they meet the road require tyre approval; this means they must be e-marked, s-marked and have a minimum 1.6mm tread depth.