'New Zealanders continue to die unnecessarily': Coroner speaks out over quad bike deaths

A Wellington coroner has suggested there be a mandatory safety standard for quad bikes, saying New Zealanders continue to die unnecessarily.

Coroner Brigitte Windley said much more is still needed to tackle continued quad bike-related death and injury.

In her findings into the death of Westport woman, Kaye Blance, Coroner Windley recommended WorkSafe NZ, MBIE, ACC, Federated Farmers and other relevant industry bodies establish a working party to collectively review work undertaken by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).

She said they should consider whether its recent recommendations to the Australian government could be implemented in New Zealand. 

Kaye Marie Blance died on 3 May 2015, after becoming trapped underneath an overturned quad bike in Westport.

Coroner Windley said a cross-sector working party that considers the introduction of a mandatory safety standard, like that proposed in Australia, could help prevent future quad bike deaths here.

"The ACCC's recommended safety standard would ensure consumers are given key safety information to inform their decision-making and risk awareness," she said. 

She said a minimum level of stability and the fitting of an Operator Protection Device would also be required. 

"The risk of harm associated with quad bike use has been well documented and coroners have for many years made recommendations aimed at reducing preventable quad bike related deaths," said Coroner Windley.

"It's frustrating that New Zealanders continue to die unnecessarily in quad bike accidents while centralised efforts to improve quad bike safety lag behind other countries."

This finding is the latest in a string of coronial investigations into quad bike deaths over the past six years, including a series of findings issued by Deputy Coroner Brandt Shortland in 2013. 

It also follows several recommendations Coroner Windley made in the finding into the death of Neville Anderson, who died in the Clutha District in 2014. 

According to coronial statistics, 99 people have been killed in quad bike incidents since 2007, including seven in 2018.

"This data suggests current efforts have not been sufficient to stem the rate of quad bike related death in New Zealand."

In the finding for the death of Kaye Blance, Coroner Windley said that Mrs Blance's case demonstrated that currently individual companies and employers are shouldering the major responsibility for determining what quad bike risk mitigation looks like. 

"This shouldn't be the case." 

"New Zealand Government agencies and industry bodies must provide leadership in this space, and actively look for and consider options and innovations that have the potential to enhance quad bike safety at a national level."