Quad bike manufacturers threaten to quit Australia over proposed safety standards

Two quad bike manufacturers have announced they will withdraw from the Australian market should new safety proposals go ahead.

An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC ) report has made a range of recommendations aimed at improving quad bike safety.

They include meeting overseas standards, additional consumer information, stability benchmarks and fitting an operator (rollover) protection device (OPD).

A Wellington coroner recently called for the recommendations to be considered here, saying New Zealanders continue to die unnecessarily.

Coroner Brigitte Windley recommended WorkSafe NZ, MBIE, ACC, Federated Farmers and other relevant industry bodies establish a working party to collectively review work undertaken by the ACCC.

However, the recommendations have not gone down well with quad bike manufacturers.

Emergency services attend a quad bike accident.
Emergency services attend a quad bike accident. Photo credit: Westpac Rescue Helicopter

Honda and Yamaha have said that they would remove their quad bikes from the Australian market if the proposals are made into law.

Honda Australia Motorcycle & Power Equipment's Managing Director Robert Toscano told Australian Farmer that the recommendations are flawed.

"No reputable company can meet the proposal because it lacks engineering and design rigour," he said.

"Any company that tries to meet the standard will be open to the accusation that it is playing with farmers' lives," said Toscano.

Yamaha engineers also announced it would not make the proposed design changes and would stop selling quad bikes in Australia should the recommendations go ahead.

The Australian National Farmers Federation welcomed the announcements from Yamaha and Honda.

"Assuming both Honda and Yamaha follow-through on their withdrawal, Australian farmers will be safer without the danger that their products currently pose," Federations Workforce Committee Chair Charlie Armstrong told Australian Farmer.

He said the void left by Honda and Yamaha's withdrawal would be filled by other vehicles and manufacturers who 'embrace safety.

"If this move saves just one life then it will be worth it, " he said.

The body representing New Zealand quad bike sellers is also not in favour of the mandatory introduction of roll cages.

The Motor Industry Association said it would welcome the opportunity to work with users and officials to review guidance on the safe use of the vehicles.

However, MIA chief executive David Crawford said it was against making engineering changes.

"We would not support any moves to install rollover device protection devices (or ROPs) on quad bikes because of the potential to interfere with the balance, structure and overall safety of the bikes," he said.

"All farm and recreational vehicles and tools have the potential to be dangerous in wrong or inexperienced hands or when used inappropriately," said Crawford.

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