Parents urged not to gift children quad bikes or scramblers for Christmas – RSA

Parents are urged not to gift children quad bikes or scramblers for Christmas, with the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána launching a public safety campaign.

According to provisional statistics published today (Thursday, October 23) by the RSA, three of six people who died in Ireland as a result of an incident involving a quad bike or scrambler were aged 18 or under, in the period 2014 to 2019.

The RSA and An Garda Síochána have launched a new public awareness campaign to highlight the dangers quad bikes and scramblers pose to children and to urge parents not to gift them this Christmas.

The casualty figures also show that between 2014 and 2019, 60 people were injured in collisions involving a quad bike or scrambler on a public road. Of those killed or injured, 41% of casualties were 18 years of age or under.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, said: “The misuse of scramblers and quad bikes is a public safety issue across Ireland.

We see in newspaper headlines regularly the devastating impact this can have on families and the wider community.

“The repercussions of anti-social behaviour arising from the use of these vehicles can be very serious resulting in injuries and fatalities.

“They are being used around housing estates, local parks and on the public road, usually with the riders wearing no protective clothing whatsoever, endangering their own lives and the lives of others.”

‘If it’s the thought that counts, please think again’

Liz O’Donnell, RSA chairperson, said that every Christmas, quad bikes and scramblers are given as presents, sometimes to very young children, so it’s “important people are informed of the risks”.

“These machines are not toys. They are intended to be driven by people in a supervised and controlled environment,” O’Donnell said.

“Many people enjoy off-road biking as a fun activity, on designated tracks and trails, ensuring they are riding in a safe and appropriate environment. However, in the hands of inexperienced and often unsupervised children in public places, they are a serious danger.

If you’re planning to gift a quad bike or scrambler this Christmas, please reconsider. If it’s the thought that counts, please think again.

Keith Synnott, consultant orthopaedic and spine surgeon at the National Spinal Injuries Unit in the Mater Hospital said riders risk spinal injury following a collision on a quad or scrambler.

“This could result in paralysis, which can mean being unable to walk or perhaps use your hands to feed yourself and loss of bowel or bladder control. Sometimes, even the inability to breath without the aid of a machine,” he said.

“Impacts often happen on areas of uneven ground or as a result of unstable vehicles, especially in the hands of children, leading to people falling and landing awkwardly or the vehicle landing on the rider. The dangers these machines pose means that they are not suitable gifts for children.”

Assistant commissioner Paula Hillman of the National Roads Policing and Community Engagement Bureau, An Garda Síochána, added that these are “powerful machines” and that parents considering buying them need to be aware that when used on a public road, they are subject to the same rules as other mechanically-propelled vehicles.

They are required to be registered, taxed and in good roadworthy condition. The driver of the vehicle must hold the appropriate driving licence and be insured to drive the vehicle.