How safe is your quad driving? 4 key aspects of ATV operation

‘Safety first’ is a thought that should be at the forefront of every quad driver’s mind when using such vehicles; if not, the consequences can be deadly.

Quad bike fatalities represented 19% of all farm vehicle fatalities over the past 10 years, with All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) responsible for 12 deaths out of 64 farm vehicle fatalities in that time frame.

75% of those that suffered fatal quad bike accidents were aged 60 years or older.

These statistics are according to figures compiled by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), which recently gave an update on quad bike safety in Ireland, along with some best practice guidelines.

Such a topic is particularly relevant ahead of the international Farm Safety Week, scheduled to take place next week (July 16-22).

The HSA has highlighted four key aspects of quad operation which need to be prioritised for safe driving.

Priority must always be given to:
  • Operator training;
  • Wearing of safety gear such as gloves, safety footwear and head protection;
  • Control of speed; and
  • Planning and checking of route.

To further highlight the dangers involved in using ATVs, the HSA provided a breakdown of the cause of death for quad bike fatalities in the past 10 years.

Becoming trapped beneath the vehicle accounted for four of the 12 deaths (33%), while impact against an object was the cause of three more (25%); crushing and striking the ground with force each were responsible for two deaths (17% each), while one death was a result of striking another vehicle (8%).

Vehicle structure

The HSA also focused on equipping one’s quad to ensure best chance of survival in the case of accidents.

In general, roll-over bars are not provided with quad bikes because traditional roll bar design depends for its effectiveness on the operator wearing a seatbelt.

In the absence of a seatbelt, there is a risk of the thrown operator being struck by the bars in the event of a roll-over.

More recently, roll-over protection devices have appeared on the market designed for use with quad bikes.

Image source: HSA

At least one of these has been certified in accordance with the requirements of the European Communities Machinery Directive and the authority has been asked for its view on these devices, the HSA says.

The HSA says it does not have sufficient information at this time to form a view on the effectiveness of such “novel designs” – and thus is not issuing an instruction or recommendation in respect of such devices.