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North Otago farmers took advantage of their first chance to see new ATV safety technology in action.
Oamaru Honda demonstrated ''Farm Angel'' at a special evening on May 7. The system has been developed by Blue Wing Honda and Blackhawk Tracking Systems and is being trialled by Landcorp Farming Ltd.
Farm Angel focuses on driver behaviour and communication. It has a GPS device, route-tracking and monitoring to give feedback to the farm manager on what the driver is doing with the bike, including acceleration, speed and tilting.
Alerts are activated automatically if the driver breaches pre-set limits.
An ATV fitted with Farm Angel will not let a driver start it up without a key-fob or medical wristband that activates the ignition. If the bike rolls or tips over, a predetermined telephone number is called. Drivers can also send manual requests for help via the fob or a smartphone app.
Oamaru Honda sales manager Leighton Selfe said more than 80 people attended the evening, where former All Black and Honda ambassador Andrew Hore hosted a question-and-answer session.
There was equal interest in Farm Angel and the new Honda side-by-side ATVs, which was another response to safety improvements, Mr Selfe said.
There was no release date yet for Farm Angel, as that would depend on the Landcorp trials.
ATVs were involved in about 850 farm injuries and five deaths a year. Coroners had repeatedly called for easy-to-activate alarms or communication systems.
Blue Wing Honda eventually wanted Farm Angel to be standard on every new ATV and available to install on any farm vehicle, general manager Alan Petrie said.
In the meantime, it still recommended all ATV drivers wear helmets and take approved training courses.
- by Sally Brooker