Run of quad bike crashes continues

The scene of the crash near Te Haroto today. Photo supplied
The scene of the crash near Te Haroto today. Photo supplied
A number of quad bike accidents ending in death and injury over the holiday period has renewed calls for users to take greater care when using the vehicles.

On Saturday, Rakaia farmer Andrew Baxter (45) was checking irrigators when he crashed, suffering suffered fatal injuries.

His death followed that of teenager Rowan Cai Parker (16), who was killed on Boxing Day when he lost control of a quad bike in South Otago and drove over a cliff, falling 150m on to rocks.

Seven others have been seriously injured in quad bike accidents recently, including 6-year-old Ashlee Shorrock, who suffered broken ribs, a broken arm, a broken collar bone and was put into an induced coma after the bike which she was on with four adults crashed in Hawkes Bay.

Today a farm worker was injured when he crashed a quad bike, also in Hawkes Bay.

The incidents have prompted calls for better safety around bike use.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokeswoman Ona de Rooy urged farmers to consider their stress and fatigue levels, particularly during daylight saving.

"It can be as easy as forgetting to check the quad bike before you head out or making a small mistake when moving livestock because you're too tired. These can all lead to fatal consequences.

"We would like to see farmers make safety a priority in 2013," she said.

But it was recreational users, not farmers, who were not getting the safety message, said Federated Farmers spokeswoman for health and safety Jeanette Maxwell.

"Recreational users, quad bikes and alcohol are a cocktail for disaster."

There were seven fatal quad bike accidents last year - two of those were recreational users, said Ms Maxwell.

"The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment needs to look at how it is communicating safety messages to casual quad bike users. Frankly, no one should be using a quad bike without the appropriate training and not all quad bikes are designed to carry two people."

Ms de Rooy said the ministry's quad bike safety campaign aimed at reinforcing safety messages to reduce quad bike injuries and fatalities will continue this year. Inspectors would also be checking how quad bikes are being used and issuing penalties where there were safety issues.

Chief Coroner Neil MacLean has previously voiced his concern over quad bike fatalities, saying simple safety messages around their use could "go a long way to preventing these utterly unnecessary deaths".

Quad bikes were okay when used for the purpose for which they were designed but when pushed beyond that, or used by children, they became potentially dangerous, he said.

"I suspect that the key message is training and awareness that they're not toys."

Typically, five people will die and 850 will be injured each year in accidents involving quad bikes on farms, according to ministry figures.

Recent accidents

Dec 26, 2012 - Rowan Cai Parker, 16, was killed when he lost control of a quad bike in the Chaslands area of South Otago and drove over a cliff - falling 150m on to rocks.

Dec 27 - A Wairarapa man in his 60s suffered broken ribs after the quad bike he was riding rolled on a muddy hill.

Jan 3, 2013 - Ashlee Shorrock, 6, suffered serious head injuries after the quad bike she was riding on with four adults crashed down a Hawkes Bay ditch. The four adults, including the girl's father and stepmother, were being treated for serious injuries.

Jan 5 - Farm worker Andrew Baxter, 45, fell from his quad bike in Rakaia and suffered fatal injuries.

Jan 7 - A 50-year-old farm worker suffered spinal injuries when he crashed his quad bike in the Hawkes Bay.

 

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