Quad bike buyers rushing to get the last of the unsafe models – DON’T DO IT

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ATV models without a safety OPD fitted are ticking time bombs for death or injury and may even make your farm insurance policy worthless in the case of an accident
Why would anyone think buying an unsafe quad bike is a smart move. Wait for a quad with the most recent safety standards fitted before you buy your next model

Buyers who think they’re making a smart move by picking up the last of the currently available quad bikes – deemed as unsafe by the ACCC from 11 October 2021 – will find in many cases that it’s the dumbest buy they ever made.

Any quad purchased prior to 11 October 2021, can be sold as a sub-standard safety model when compared to a model bought the very next day that must be built to the latest safety standards.

If you purchase a quad bike prior to 11 October 2021 that is not already set-up to comply with the legislated safety enhancements, this is what you miss out on, and may very well at some future stage be committed to add to your now out of date model.

General use quad bikes are required to meet the minimum stability requirements of:

  • lateral roll stability — a minimum Tilt Table Ratio (TTR) of 0.55 (must not tip on to two wheels on a slope less than 28.81 degrees)
  • front and rear longitudinal pitch stability — a minimum TTR of 0.8 (must not tip on to two wheels on a slope less than 38.65 degrees)

The quad bike must also be fitted with an operator protection device (OPD) or have one integrated into its design.

The purpose of an OPD is to hold the quad bike off the ground, helping to protect the rider from the risk of serious injury or fatality as a result of being crushed or pinned in the event of a rollover.

If you buy the quad from 11 October 2021, you will be getting a model with the most recent recommended safety standards – one we are assured by several farm and government bodies that is designed to save lives.

And even after the new regulations come in, if some bright spark is telling you to remove the OPD once you leave the showroom – walk away immediately, you are dealing with a law breaker and potential silent killer.

Once you own a quad with a OPD fitted you won’t even know it’s fitted, that is of course until the day you might happen to roll over.

Don’t listen to the rubbish about the OPD getting in the way, hitting branches and scaring the cows, it is designed to run a quad as you normally would – with the aim to stop the quad crushing you to death in the case of an unlucky roll-over.

Take a look at these two videos that will help both buyers and suppliers understand the new safety standard ahead of its introduction later this year.

The first of the videos, shot in country Victoria, shows how easily a quad bike can tip over and trap its rider. It is to remind buyers about the risks of riding quad bikes and what to look for when purchasing a quad bike that complies with the new standard.

The second video shows what suppliers must do to comply with the new standard.

Laws passed by Federal Parliament

The can of worms will open up once the new quad laws come into effect on 11 October 2021.

They are laws, set down by the Federal Government, and just like any other laws they are there to protect the less experienced in our society.

These quad bike laws have not appeared with the simple strike of a public servant’s pen.

The new quad bike laws have been set down following a very long process of watching inexperienced riders die and somebody or concerned group finally deciding to do something about it.

The force behind the new laws was the first government attempt made to alert the public that quad bikes in their current build were inherently unsafe.

From the time these new quad bike laws were first muted, in 2017, the lack of consensus between the ACCC and industry has seen many needless deaths occur, 24 in 2020 alone with up to another 1000 injured.

Following the safety concern issues being heavily voiced through the media, and round one of safety updates enacted on 11 October 2020, the 2021 fatality rate dropped significantly to only register one fatality by 13 May 2021.

This already welcome result from the first round changes proves the new laws are effective and will go on to save many lives once round two is activated.

Many of the unfortunate souls lured to their deaths on Quad bikes would still be here today if the 11 October 2021 laws were already in place, from the time first muted in 2017.

At least one manufacture is able to meet the new regulations

And it appears the new safety laws can be readily met, that’s according to manufacturer TGB who have already released details of four models, that will be fully compliant from 11 October 2021. See TGB models here.

It is also understood that TGB is working with Lloyd’s of London to ensure that their TGB models will be fully insured in case of an accident.

This TGB 600SEX model will be fully compliant when the new safety laws come in on 11 October 2021

For many people that have needlessly lost loved ones crushed under quad bikes, being told if the new regulations including the OPD had been in place it is possible their death could have been averted, it has been a long and drawn-out battle for some justice.

How the road to salvation began

The official quad bike safety investigation began in 2017, the ACCC formed a taskforce to investigate and determine whether to recommend to the Assistant Treasurer that a mandatory safety standard for quad bikes be made under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

As with any new laws being recommended a lengthy period of consultation began.

On 13 November 2017, the ACCC released an Issues Paper for comment, and from this public comment was received and a selection of 56 responses were recorded for everybody to see at Quad bike safety issues paper.

The Issue Papers outlined a litany of death and injury for all to clearly see, quad bikes were the new battlefront with their simple everyday use resulting in 114 deaths from 1 January 2011 to 16 October 2017.

This was an average of 16 to 17 deaths per year, and while they occurred in each state and territory, the majority were in three states, Queensland with 31%, NSW with 26% and Victoria with 22% accounted for an astonishing 79% of total deaths.

More than half, 55% of all deaths associated with quad bikes were the result of a rollover, the overturning of the vehicle, and 30% were from collision. About 90% of rollover deaths had occurred on farms.

But unfortunately, the mayhem didn’t end there.

Australia-wide, the Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q) reported that from 2003-2011 almost 8000 patients were admitted to hospital for quad bike related injuries.

The average length of stay for children was 2.5 days, while the average length of stay for adults was 3.4 days. From the total admissions, 15% of children and 25% of adults were classified as ‘serious’.

Many would never walk again, and many would never lead a normal life without ongoing care.

Horror reading, surely something could be done to reduce this high level of death and injury. It was a call to get everybody involved in the quad bike industry to band together and save their customers from these savage outcomes.

After all, the global quad bike market was expected to grow to US$8.8 billion (AU$11.3 billion) by 2024, surely some of this money could be set aside for safety.

And while the local market only makes up around 3% of the global market, it was expected to grow to US$312.6 million (AU$400.1 million) by 2024. And local sales were increasing at a higher rate than the global market.

It was also revealed that sales of quad bikes for use in agriculture were expected to grow faster than for any other segment of the Australian market. such was their appeal to local farmers.

However, on the counterbalance, the total cost of quad bike deaths and injuries in Australia in 2017 was estimated to be AU$85.19 million (since amended in 2021 to AU$204 million) and this can be contrasted to the total retail value of quad bikes sold in Australia in 2017 of AU$258.7 million (projected to AU$400.1 million by 2024).

Industry and stakeholders asked to choose from five options

In the meantime, the consultation period for examining a change to the law was just beginning, on 22 March 2018, the ACCC released a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) for comment. Consultation was set to close on 4 May 2018.

The ACCC proposed five options and asked participants their preferred option and why it was preferred to the others. These were the options proposed:

•  Option 1: take no action at all (status quo)

Option 2: make a mandatory safety standard in relation to quad bikes and SSVs that:

– adopts the ANSI/SVIA 1–2017 US Standard for quad bikes

– requires post manufacture testing for quad bikes and SSVs in accordance with the requirements of a safety star rating system and the disclosure of the star rating at the point of sale

– requires an additional warning on quad bikes alerting the operator to the risk of rollover

•  Option 3: make a mandatory safety standard that satisfies all of the requirements of option 2, and in addition requires general-use model quad bikes to be fitted with an operator protection device

•  Option 4: make a mandatory safety standard that satisfies all the requirements of option 2, and in addition requires general-use model quad bikes to meet minimum performance tests for mechanical suspension, stability and dynamic handling. It also requires that all wheels be able to rotate at different speeds

•  Option 5: make a mandatory safety standard that satisfies all of the requirements of Options 2, 3 and 4.

Public submissions received were then published on the ACCC’s consultation hub at:
Quad bike safety regulation impact statement.

Industry and ACCC have a parting of ways

And this was also the marker in the road that quad bike manufacturers and the industry had a different view on where the ACCC safety standards were heading.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) had by this time already withdrawn its support of the Technical Review Group (TRG) set-up to provide technical advice, and ‘evaluate the appropriateness’ of the ATVAP. The University of NSW’s “Australian Terrain Vehicle Assessment Program. A program the ACCC was to rely on heavily moving forward.

The FCAI and ATV manufacturers chose to instead rely on findings from three coronial Inquests that made recommendations to: mandate helmets and training and to ban children under 16 years from riding adult sized ATVs, and passengers from riding on single seat ATVs.

There was now a distinctive fork in the road that would prove to be disruptive and make it almost impossible for quad bike makers and the industry to agree with the ACCC process moving forward.

However, the ACCC did move forward and on 1 March 2019 made a recommendation to the then Assistant Treasurer to make a mandatory safety standard under the Australian Consumer Law.

Following the government assessment on 6 April 2019, an exposure draft of the safety standard was released for comment. Consultation closed on 10 June 2019.

From the five options of added safety measures in the build of quad bikes the ACCC asked consumers and the industry to choose from, Option 3 was recommended by the ACCC.

After extensive consultation and detailed advice from safety experts, the ACCC considers the introduction of a safety standard for quad bikes consisting of each of the requirements outlined in Option 3, is reasonably necessary to prevent or reduce the risk of injury to any person, as provided for in section 104 of the ACL.

The ACCC moved forward with Option 3

that requires all quad bikes to:

meet certain requirements of the US Standard or EN Standard

• have a durable label affixed, visible when the quad bike is in operation, alerting the operator to the risk of rollover

• be tested for lateral static stability using a tilt table test and display the angle at which it tips on to two wheels on a hang tag at the point of sale

general-use model quad bikes to:

• be fitted with, or have integrated into the design, an operator protection device

• meet the minimum stability performance requirements of: lateral stability—a minimum TTR of 0.55

• front and rear longitudinal pitch stability—a minimum TTR of 0.8.

The ACCC further stated that it considers these requirements to be reasonably necessary to reduce the risk of injury posed by quad bikes.

Industry campaigning saw the requirements ease slightly

The resistance from the quad bike industry had turned up a win of sorts, for them, as the ACCC was hinting at enforcing Option 5.

With Option 5 there was an ream of added safety measures that would require general-use model quad bikes to meet minimum performance tests for mechanical suspension, stability and dynamic handling. It also required that all wheels be able to rotate at different speeds.

A costly exercise indeed if manufacturers were made to comply.

Take heart, the end to this saga is almost here, and the new laws are almost set.

On 17 July 2019, the ACCC notified the World Trade Organization, under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, of the draft safety standard. No comments were received by Member nations. One submission was received from an industry stakeholder.

It was a journey filled with contrary points of view, but on 10 October 2019, the Assistant Treasurer announced the mandatory standard, Consumer Goods (Quad Bikes) Safety Standard 2019 under the Australian Consumer Law.

The laws are enacted over two rounds

The new safety recommendations would appear in two phases, the first from 11 October 2020 and the final phase on 11 October 2021.

These are the changes in Phase one.

From 11 October 2020, all new and imported second-hand quad bikes are required to:

  1. meet the specified requirements of the US standard for quad bikes, ANSI/SVIA 1-2017, or the European standard for quad bikes, EN 15997:2011
  2. have a rollover warning label affixed so that when the quad bike is used, it will be clearly visible and legible
  3. provide information in the owner’s manual or information handbook on the risk of rollover
  4. be tested for lateral static stability and display the angle at which the quad bike tips on to two wheels on a hang tag at the point of sale.
  5. have a spark arrestor that conforms to the Australian Standard AS 1019-2000 or the US Standard 5100-1d.
1. US/European standards

From 11 October 2020, all new and imported second-hand quad bikes must meet the requirements set out in either:

  • sections 4 to 8, including the related figures (Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4), of the American National Standard for Four Wheel All-Terrain Vehicles – Equipment, Configuration, and Performance Requirements (ANSI/SVIA 1 – 2017); or
  • clauses 5 to 7, including the related annexes (Annexes B, C, D, E, G and H), of the European Standard for All Terrain Vehicles (ATV-Quads) Safety Requirements and Test Methods (EN 15997:2011). (Clause 5.2.18.1 (on longitudinal stability) is excluded).

Approximately 90 per cent of quad bikes sold in Australia are already manufactured to meet the requirements of the US or European Standard.

As of 2019, these standards and other standards referenced in the safety standard can be obtained from the following sites:

US Standard

The US Standard was developed by an industry association, Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA). Initially, it was a voluntary industry standard for quad bikes, which was approved by the American National Standards Institute in 1990. Compliance with the standard became mandatory in the US in 2006 under federal regulation. The standard has been updated and revised. For the purposes of the Australian safety standard, the relevant version is ANSI/SVIA 1–2017.

Sections 4 to 8 of the US Standard cover:

  • vehicle equipment and configuration (including brakes, mechanical suspension, engine stop switch, clutch control, throttle control, drive train controls, indicators, electric start interlock, passenger handholds, flagpole bracket, manual fuel shutoff control, handlebars, foot environment, lighting and reflective equipment, spark arrester, tires, security, owner’s manual, identification number, labels and hang tags)
  • maximum speed capability measurement and speed capability requirements
  • service brake performance
  • parking brake mechanism/performance.
European Standard

The European Standard was approved by the European Committee for Standardization in 2011. Committee member nations were required to give this European Standard the status of a national standard either by publication of identical text or by endorsement by 2012. For the purposes of the Australian safety standard, the relevant version is EN 15997:2011 COR 2012.

The European Standard EN 15997:2011 is based on US Standard but includes additional requirements, for example, for noise and carbon dioxide emissions, and excludes some requirements, for example, for spark arresters.

Clauses 5 to 7 (excluding clause 5.2.18.1) cover:

  • mechanical hazards (including throttle control, braking, steering, moving parts, sharp edges, rider foot environment, fuel and hydraulic systems, rider’s seat and handlebar, passenger handholds, mechanical suspension, drive train controls, indicators, electric starter interlock, access systems, foot controls, lighting, tyres, speed, engine stop switch, manual clutch control, security and flagpole bracket)
  • electrical hazards (including over-current protective devices, batteries and security)
  • hot surfaces
  • noise control
  • vibration hazards
  • material/substance hazards
  • controls and indicators
  • storage
  • ergonomics
  • errors of fitting
  • verification
  • information for use.
2. Permanent warning label
This permanent roll-over warning label must be affixed at all times

Warning label form and content

From 11 October 2020, quad bikes must have a rollover warning label that is fixed so it is clearly visible when the quad bike is used in addition to the warning labels required in the ANSI/SVIA 1-2017 or EN 15997:2011.

3. Owner manual/instructions

From 11 October 2020, the owner’s manual (if complying with the US Standard) or instruction handbook (if complying with the European Standard) accompanying the quad bike must also provide information alerting consumers to the risk of rollovers, when the risk of rollover is increased and how to best operate the quad bike safely in higher risk conditions.

4. Yellow hang tag

This yellow hang tag stability label shows at what angle the quad becomes unstable
Hang tag form and content

The hang tag is intended to allow consumers to compare the stability of different models within a particular category of quad bikes by providing consumers with information about the minimum angle the quad bike tipped sideways on to two wheels when it was tested on a tilt table by the manufacturer. Quad bikes with higher numbers (bigger tilt table angles) are more stable.

From 11 October 2020, a lateral stability hang tag must be attached to quad bikes so that it is clearly visible and legible at the point of sale. The hang tag must record the minimum angle the quad bike tipped sideways on to two wheels (its tilt table angle).

When developing the tag, the following information is required to be inserted:

  • XX.X° = the minimum angle at which the quad bike tipped sideways on to 2 wheels
  • XYZ Pty Ltd = the manufacturer of the quad bike model tested
  • Model(s) X, #### = the model of quad bike tested.

Hang tag lateral stability values (tilt table angles) should be used for comparison of different models within quad bike categories, for example, to compare different models of general use quad bikes. These values are not intended to be used to compare models from different categories, for example, to compare general use quad bikes with youth quad bikes.

The quad bike must be tested using the lateral roll tilt test procedure in Schedule 1 of the Consumer Goods (Quad Bikes) Safety Standard 2019 to obtain the minimum tilt table angle displayed.

General use and sports quad bikes are tested with a test dummy (an Anthropomorphic Test Device (ATD)) seated on the quad bike. Youth and transition quad bikes are tested without an ATD. For the same quad bike, the tilt table angle is significantly lower with an ATD than without an ATD.

5. Spark arresters

From 11 October 2020, the safety standard requires quad bikes to be fitted with a spark arrester that conforms to Australian Standard AS 1019-2000 or the US Standard 5100-1d.

However, although the safety standard allows manufacturers to comply with the US or Australian spark arrester standards, manufacturers will still need to ensure that their products also meet any other applicable laws such as the Victorian fire regulations.

These are the changes in Phase two.

If you purchase a quad bike prior to 11 October 2021, this is what you miss out on, and may very well at some future stage be committed to add to your now out of date model.

General use quad bikes are required to meet the minimum stability requirements of:

  • lateral roll stability — a minimum Tilt Table Ratio (TTR) of 0.55 (must not tip on to two wheels on a slope less than 28.81 degrees)
  • front and rear longitudinal pitch stability — a minimum TTR of 0.8 (must not tip on to two wheels on a slope less than 38.65 degrees)

The quad bike must also be fitted with an operator protection device (OPD) or have one integrated into its design.

See: Operator protection devices (OPDs)

Operator protection device (OPD) requirements

The purpose of an OPD is to help protect riders from the risk of death or serious injury as a result of being crushed or pinned in the event of a rollover.

From 11 October 2021, general use quad bikes must have an OPD fitted or integrated into its design. The purpose of an OPD is to hold the quad bike off the ground, helping to protect the rider from the risk of serious injury or fatality as a result of being crushed or pinned in the event of a rollover.

A general use quad bike must have one of the following devices fitted or integrated into its design:

  • an ATV Lifeguard
  • a Quadbar
  • a device of a type that offers the same, or better, level of protection for operators from the risk of serious injury or death as a result of being crushed or pinned in the event of a rollover.

At this stage, youth and sports quad bikes are not required to be fitted with an OPD due to the lack of testing of after-market OPDs designed for these categories.

For more information about the safety standard requirements relating to OPDs see: Operator protection devices (OPDs)

Static stability requirements

From 11 October 2021, general use quad bikes must meet minimum static stability requirements.

When subjected to a tilt table test with an average size male test dummy (HIII 50th percentile average male Anthropomorphic Test Device (50 PAM H3 ATD)) seated on the quad bike, general use model quad bikes must be able to achieve the following minimum stability levels:

  • lateral roll stability — a minimum tilt table ratio of 0.55
  • front and rear longitudinal pitch stability — a minimum tilt table ratio of 0.8.

Tilt table test procedures are contained within Schedule 1 of the Consumer Goods (Quad Bikes) Safety Standard 2019.

At this stage, the minimum stability requirements do not apply to youth, transition or sports quad bikes due to the lack of research on design changes for these categories.

Guidance for consumers

Consumers typically purchase new quad bikes from dealers, although manufacturers may supply some customers directly for special purpose applications.

The ACCC encourages all consumers to take immediate action to ensure their safety when operating quad bikes.

While the standard gives suppliers transition periods to comply with the safety standard, including 24 months to ensure general-use quad bikes have an OPD fitted or integrated into their design, consumers can take immediate action and start fitting OPDs now.

During the transition period, if your workplace uses quad bikes, you may be entitled to a rebate. See: Guidance for consumers

Guidance for dealers

The manufacturer, importer or distributor who supplies you (the dealer) with quad bikes to resell in Australia is responsible for supplying a compliant quad bike to you. If you think your supplier has contravened the safety standard, you can report it to the ACCC.

If you have stock that does not comply with the safety standard when the requirements commence, you will not be able to sell that stock under the Australian Consumer Law.

See: Guidance for quad bike dealers

Guidance for manufacturers, importers and distributors

As the manufacturer, importer or distributor supplying into Australia, you are responsible for ensuring that the quad bikes that you supply to Australia (whether to dealers or directly to consumers) comply with the requirements of the safety standard.

Otherwise, you may be in breach of the Australian Consumer Law, which can result in fines and penalties.

See: Guidance for quad bike manufacturers

Guidance for workplaces

In Australia, quad bikes are purchased for use in the agriculture and forestry industries as work vehicles. Quad bikes are also used in the tourism industry.

If you buy a quad bike for your business from 11 October 2020, the supplier must comply with the safety standard. Otherwise, the supplier may be in breach of the Australian Consumer Law, which can result in fines and penalties.

If you think that a supplier has contravened the safety standard, you can report this to the ACCC.

Quad bikes are also regulated under work health and safety legislation. Road rules for each jurisdiction also apply if the quad bike is ridden on public roads.

Safe Work Australia provides contact details for the work health and safety authority in each state and territory and for the Commonwealth. You can also obtain further information on:

  • your obligations to protect workers and other persons from harm
  • ways to prevent quad bike deaths and injuries
  • rebates provided by some jurisdictions to improve the safety of quad bikes.

Quad bike safety standard updates

Sign up to the Quad bike safety standard newsletter to receive regular updates on the quad bike safety standard. The newsletter will provide you with general guidance on how to comply with the standard, as well as links to online resources and reminders of important dates.