THE COMMON THEMES of alcohol and no helmet use emanating from quad bike death inquests in Tasmanian has caused a Coroner to make a series of recommendations after investigating seven deaths in three years involving what he says are the biggest killers on farms.
When handing down his findings, coroner Simon Cooper said the use of quad bikes should be of “general concern to society.”
The inquest, held in 2016, examined seven Tasmanian quad bike deaths between November 2012 and December 2015.
It heard four people had been drinking alcohol, five were not wearing helmets and one was carrying a pillion passenger when they should not have been.
He also called for a ban on young children riding quad bikes
Mr Cooper made eight recommendations in his report, most of which were focused on tightening and developing legislation surrounding the vehicles’ use.
He said mandatory training and licensing measures needed to be established, and he recommended banning children under six from “ever operating any quad bike in any circumstances whatsoever.”
Mr Cooper found helmets were not widely used because they seemed to be regarded, particularly in rural settings, as “unnecessary, impractical, uncomfortable and perhaps too hot.”
In four of the cases being examined, Mr Cooper found helmets were not worn appropriately, or at all, and this was likely to have contributed to the deaths.
He said introducing legislation ensuring the use of a “suitable approved helmet” was a matter that needed urgent consideration.
As well as prohibiting quad bike use by children under six, Mr Cooper recommended banning children under the age of 16 from operating “adult-sized” quad bikes.
He also said children between the ages of six and 16 should only be allowed to operate “youth-sized” quad bikes in accordance with the manufacturer’s age specifications.
In his findings, Mr Cooper said although none of the victims examined by the inquiry were passengers, the inquest considered the issue of passenger safety in a general sense.
He recommended legislating against carrying passengers on single-person quad bikes, and ensuring passengers were limited to one on others.
While he considered whether roll bars should be mandatory, he did not receive enough evidence to make a recommendation.
Mr Cooper’s findings also advised that a star-rating system be developed across the board to help reduce the occurrence of serious injury and death.
“Quad bikes are the biggest killer of workers on farms,” the Coroner concluded.