Quad bike invention wins

Seeing stories about the number of quad-bike fatalities in New Zealand got Steve Dawson thinking.

The North Otago man reckoned someone needed to ''do something'' to try to prevent deaths and injuries - so he did something himself.

Mr Dawson, a dry block manager, developed a quad bike GPS monitoring system which he entered in the grassroots invention category held as part of the Fieldays Innovation Centre Competition.

He was thrilled to win both the grassroots major category award, sponsored by the University of Waikato, and also Vodafone's ICT award.

The competition is a forum for inventors to introduce their primary industry-themed ''homegrown'' designs in the categories of Grassroots, Launch NZ and International.

Judges were impressed that Mr Dawson demonstrated a ''clear system'' with a positive impact on farm safety and ''true demonstration of Kiwi ingenuity''.

Last month, the Otago Daily Times reported quad bike-related claims cost the Government nearly $12 million last year. Between 2003 and 2013, there were 63 ''fatal claims'' to Accident Compensation Corporation, including deaths in Waitaki, Dunedin, Southland, Gore and Invercargill.

Quad-bike accidents were a ''huge issue'' in the farming sector, Mr Dawson said.

His GPS safety and monitoring system comprised a unit on the quad bike that was solely satellite. It had a tilt sensor which meant if the bike rolled, there was an alert. An SOS button could also be activated.

Those alerts went through to call centres - one in the North Island and one in the South Island. From there, calls would be made to a list of three nominated people. If no-one on the list could be contacted, an ambulance would be called. There was a cancellation feature for the alert.

Details of the driver, including any medical conditions, were available for ambulance personnel, along with GPS co-ordinates for the crash site.

Mr Dawson believed if farm workers knew there was a monitoring system on their quad-bike, they would drive more responsibly.

It was about getting help as soon as possible and, looking at last year's fatalities, he believed the system could have saved the lives of some of those killed, as they were not found for some time.

With the technology now available, systems could be put in place to save lives, he said.

Mr Dawson was now hoping to find an investor and hoped manufacturing could be done in New Zealand as he wanted to ''keep it in Otago''.

He estimated it would cost $25,000 to $30,000 to launch the system on the market.

It was the first time he had entered the Fieldays competition, but it would not be the last, he said.


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