4 Nov 2010

Tougher line to be taken on quad bike use

9:42 am on 4 November 2010

The Labour Department has signalled it will take a tougher line on the use of quad bikes on farms.

And farmers have been warned that they will face prosecution if they continue to ignore safety guidelines for using the vehicles.

On average each year during the past 10 years, five people have been killed and 850 people injured in quad bike accidents on farms.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson launched a new campaign at Mystery Creek near Hamilton on Wednesday morning, aimed at reducing the accident rate.

She says the campaign will focus on four basic safety steps for quad bike use, which include wearing helmets and not allowing children under 16 to ride them.

Enforcement emphasised

The Labour Department's chief adviser for health and safety, Dr Geraint Emrys, says past efforts focusing on education have had little impact on reducing the high accident rate.

He says the new campaign, which has farmer representatives, manufacturers and the ACC on board, will make it clear that the department has the legal power to enforce safety guidelines, such as helmet-wearing.

If quad bike users follow the guidelines, Dr Emrys says, the accident rate could be reduced by a third.

Federated Farmers' health and safety spokesperson, Donald Aubrey, says prosecuting someone after an accident is like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

But he says the new campaign is timely and is supported by his organisation.

As part of the campaign launch Ms Wilkinson rode a quad bike herself and was assessed by a trainer.