Tasmania should consider mandatory safety training courses for all-terrain vehicle riders

A mandatory quad bike training course – such as exists for would-be motorcyclists - is a sound idea for those wishing to operate the vehicles.

Yes, the usage of a road registered motorcycle differs from an all-terrain vehicle only used on private property, but too many people are seriously injured or killed by the vehicles in Tasmania.

Anything that reduces those incidents should be examined, debated and implemented if it makes practical sense.

There is a perception among some that quad bikes are safe because they have four wheels and are close to the ground.

However, the handling characteristics, tyre size and high centre of gravity makes an ATV a particularly dangerous vehicle in the wrong hands.

People are often lured into a false sense of safety because only a car licence is needed to ride an ATV.

They ride without a helmet, carry passengers and take on terrain like hills and creeks that should not be tackled by inexperienced riders.

And the results can be utterly devastating.

British woman Holly Raper was left a quadriplegic after suffering a catastrophic brain injury while riding an ATV without a helmet on a King Island dairy farm.

Others have not survived rollovers or being thrown from the bikes.

People are often crushed by the vehicles, which can weigh up to 200 kilograms, when they roll.

A coronial inquest into nine ATV deaths in Queensland recommended mandatory helmets for riders and an advertising campaign warning about the dangers of quad bikes. It also suggested children under 16 be banned from riding quad bikes.

An inquest into seven ATV deaths in Tasmania between 2012 and 2015 is ongoing but is likely to make similar recommendations.

In the end, like all vehicle use, it will come down to users making sensible and safe choices, riding within their limits and following the guidelines.

The temptation is no doubt there for workers to cut corners or joyriders to push the limits, but the potential risks should always be calculated.

Most people wouldn’t drive a car without seatbelts or ride a motorcycle without a helmet and they must first pass tests measuring their capability to operate said vehicle: the same should apply for ATVs.


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