Quad bike crash causes identified

Factors contributing to death and injury from using quad bikes have been specifically identified by University of Otago research.

School of Physiotherapy researchers have isolated the major causes of quad bike accidents - which have accounted for 48 fatalities in New Zealand in the past decade.

A study of 30 South Otago farm workers revealed those participants who steered uphill rather than downhill while tackling a left-facing slope had the most accidents, Dr Stephan Milosavljevic said.

Stability was compounded by the positioning of the throttle on the right side of the quad bike, making it more difficult for people turning uphill, he said.

A narrow width between wheels, and drivers elevated in the seat posed further dangers.

Of the 30 people tested in the study, 63% had lost control of their quad bikes.

Dr Milosavljevic said anecdotal evidence suggested many farmers had fallen off their bikes at some point, and simply "got back on".

More research was needed to ascertain further risk factors.

The study, which was co-authored by Dr Allan Carman, also discovered people were exposed to high levels of vibration while riding quad bikes,which could result in back pain.

A further study involving 130 South Otago farmers on vibration exposure had been completed.

Of those, 60% experienced back pain and half of that number attributed the cause to a farm vehicle.

More than half of the farmers surveyed had also lost control of their quad bike.

The situation was worse for tall and heavier farmers, or those who drove at higher speed.

A 20% cut in quad bike use would save lives and cut down on vibration exposure, and for closer jobs farmers would be well advised to walk, rather than take the bikes.

"If the quad bikes don't need to be used, don't use them . . . they are just too convenient.

"Walking is a dramatically under-rated exercise."


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