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Quad bikes – control is an illusion
At a roadside fuel reduction burn in February 2017, there was an incident involving a quad bike fitted with a rollover operator protective device (OPD).
With the burn underway, the quad bike became stuck in a ditch which the rider couldn’t see because of tall roadside grass. After several attempts, the rider managed to get out of the ditch with only minor damage to the quad bike.
This incident highlighted the potential for a rollover and the role of an OPD in protecting riders from serious injury.
Quad bikes have been used by CFA for roadside fuel reduction for many years. They are an efficient way to speed up roadside burning compared with the alternative method of firefighters walking along with drip torches.
But around 10 people die every year, and many more are injured, in quad bike accidents on Australian farms. The emotional and financial cost of these deaths and injuries to farm families and communities is immense.
Quad bikes are marketed and sold as all-terrain vehicles even though they don’t have all-terrain capability and are inherently unstable. Manufacturers’ instruction books include warnings and explain the limitations of quad bikes, but people still have the false perception that quad bikes are stable, robust machines with go-anywhere capability.
The truth is you are never fully in control of a quad bike.
To mitigate against the risk of accident and injury, CFA strongly suggests all quad bikes should be fitted with an OPD, riders must wear helmets, be experienced, demonstrate competence, and be endorsed by their brigade captain to use a quad bike.