Why quad bikes are dangerous to children

It is essential that anyone considering buying a quad bike or allowing a child to drive or ride on one understands that quad bikes are powerful machines with a high centre of gravity.

The required mode of riding quad bikes presents a challenge to adult riders, whereby they manoeuver their body weight in a practice referred to as ‘active riding’. This requires a combination of adequate height, weight, cognitive capacity, and dexterity.

For children with smaller bodies, the challenges are even greater.

There are two typical circumstances that cause quad bike injuries:

  • the quad bike collides with a fixed object
  • the driver loses control on hard uneven surfaces and the quad bike rolls over, throwing the driver or passenger off, or trapping them underneath

All manufacturers of quad bikes sold in New Zealand state that children under the age of 16 years should not ride an adult sized quad bike (engine capacity exceeding 90cc). Despite this warning, every year around 30 children die or are hospitalised as a result of quad bike injuries, either as drivers or as passengers.

The evidence is clear – adult sized quad bikes are potentially lethal for children and have the capacity to inflict significant harm.

The Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee report ‘Child and youth mortality from motorcycle, quad bike and motorised agricultural vehicle use’ highlights the dangers posed by quad bikes when ridden or controlled by children who are under 16 years of age. The report:

  • looked into 33 child deaths caused by off road motor vehicles from 2001 – 2012, including 12 deaths caused by quad bikes
  • recommends children under 16 should never operate an adult sized quad bike.

More information

Download the report: Child and youth mortality from motorcycle, quad bike and motorised agricultural vehicle use on the Health Quality & Safety Commission New Zealand website.

Find out more about quad bike safety on WorkSafe NZ’s website.

Summarised from Safekids News, March 2015.

Published in consumer and occupational safety.

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