Operator protection devices, or roll bars, on quad bikes may significantly reduce the number of times a rider is injured or killed by the quad bike when it rolls sideways in an accident, according to a new US Government study.
The study, which was commissioned by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), used various quad bike models and a test dummy to test the effectiveness of operator protection devices (OPDs) in rollover accidents at low or moderate speed.
Quad bikes are popular vehicles for work and play and rollover incidents occur regularly, sometimes resulting in tragic consequences.
Since 2011, 149 people have died from quad bike related accidents in Australia, 23 of whom have been children. In addition, it is estimated six people present to an emergency department each day as a result of quad bike related injuries.
The report comes ahead of the Australian Government’s quad bike safety standard becoming mandatory next month, under which all new and second hand imported general use quad bikes sold must have a test tag attached indicating the angle at which they will rollover, and from October 2021 must have an OPD fitted.
The US CPSC report includes the result of lateral rollover tests conducted on six different quad bike models fitted with ATV Lifeguard and Quadbar OPDs and compared them to tests without an OPD at what the researchers termed low and moderate speeds.
The low speed tests were conducted in scenarios that in many ways mimic Australian conditions and typical quad bike use.
“The study used state of the art testing equipment including test dummies with sophisticated electronic sensors, and is perhaps the most rigorous real-world test of OPDs yet conducted. The results support the ACCC’s view that OPDs are likely to save lives,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.
“In low speed lateral rollover tests involving a quad bike with an OPD, significant impact between the quad bike and the crash test dummy was virtually eliminated.”
“In contrast, in rollover tests of the same model quad bikes without an OPD, the test dummy was struck more than five times more often,” Mr Keogh said.
Research indicates that in Australia, 80 per cent of quad bike accidents that have resulted in serious injury occurred at or below the low speeds tested.
Even at moderate speeds, the tests showed that an OPD resulted in fewer significant impacts between the quad bike and the test dummy.
Importantly, the test results also highlight that a vehicle’s design can affect how it reacts in a rollover. One of the quad bikes tested performed markedly different to others, rolling over faster and further, and striking the test dummy more than any other quad bike with and without an OPD. This shows the importance of the government’s minimum stability requirements that also apply from October 2021.
“Poorer performing vehicles like this one will no longer be able to be sold in Australia once the stability requirements become mandatory,” Mr Keogh said.
“This study shows why the Australian Government’s safety standard is appropriate, and likely to reduce quad bike injuries and deaths. To the extent we can infer that these results would also apply in real world events, OPDs and the minimum stability requirements are likely to reduce rollover incidents, and reduce the harm to riders in the event of a rollover.”
“It also reinforces that even with OPDs fitted it is always important to ride safely and wear the appropriate safety gear,” Mr Keogh said.
There were two types of lateral rollover tests involved in the CPSC research, dynamic and sled. The dynamic tests were conducted with autonomous quad bikes that were either fitted with the ATV Lifeguard and Quadbar, or did not have an OPD. A test dummy was used as a surrogate rider at both low speeds (of between 32km/h and 39km/h) and at moderate speeds (of between 38km/h and 42km/h).
The sled tests were conducted in a laboratory using a sled to accelerate the quad bike sideways until it hit the ground causing a rollover at 23km/h (low speed) and 30km/h (moderate speed). Similar to the dynamic tests, the quad bikes used a test dummy as a surrogate rider and were either fitted with the ATV Lifeguard and Quadbar or did not have an OPD.
The major use of quad bikes in Australia is farming, while in the US recreational use is dominant, when quad bikes may often operate at higher speeds.
Over 80 per cent of quad bike accidents in Australia that have caused serious injury occur at or under 35km/h, with the majority occurring on flat terrain.
At least 60 per cent of fatalities from quad bike incidents in Australia between 2011-2018 occurred when the bike rolled over and the rider was pinned underneath the bike, being asphyxiated or crushed.
In October 2019, the Federal Government accepted the ACCC’s recommendation to introduce a new mandatory safety standard for quad bikes.
The safety standard has two stages:
Stage 1: 11 October 2020
All new quad bikes, and imported second-hand quad bikes must:
- meet the specified requirements of the US quad bike Standard, ANSI/SVIA 1-2017 or the EN 15997:2011 Standard and have a spark arrester installed that conforms to AS 1019-2000 or 5100-d Standards
- be tested for lateral static stability using a tilt table test and display the angle at which they tip onto two wheels on a hang tag at the point of sale
- have a durable label affixed, visible and legible when the quad bike is in operation, alerting the operator to the risk of rollover, and must include rollover safety information in the owner’s manual.
Stage 2: 11 October 2021
All new and imported second hand general-use model quad bikes must:
- be fitted with, or have integrated into the design, an operator protection device
- meet the minimum stability requirements of: – lateral stability-must not tip on to two wheels on a slope less than 28.81 degrees – front and rear longitudinal pitch stability-must not tip on to two wheels on a slope less than 38.65 degrees.