Site of just one of many quad bike crashes.
Site of just one of many quad bike crashes. Contributed

Researchers push for quad bike safety reform

QUAD bike tragedies since 2000 have cost the nation 124 lives with the loss of more than $288 million to the economy, according to landmark research.

Three Sydney researchers from the University of Sydney have calculated how much the death of these riders cost the community, using the results to push for safety reform.

The research was released just weeks after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission warned that almost one-third of the 18 people killed on quad bikes in 2012 were younger than 15.

Although putting a price tag on human lives could appear morbid, the authors say the figure should act as another powerful reason for governments to intervene.

They call for more rigid quad bike regulations to increase safety and stem the death toll.

The formula used to determine how much a fatality cost the economy took in the cost of medical treatment, insurance payouts, police investigations and the amount they would now never be able to earn into account.

On average, each death cost the community $2.3 million.

The report found action must be taken to protect those riding one of the estimated 220,000 quad bikes in Australia.

Installing crush protection on the bikes could cut quad bike deaths by 40% and cut farm deaths by 70% if they were encouraged with a government subsidy.

Its findings also pointed to banned use of quad bikes by anyone under 16 because "they do not have the physical size, strength or cognitive ability to safely manage these vehicles".

In a March statement, the ACCC published survey results showing one in six riders wore no protection and one in four rode with someone else - a danger on bikes often built to handle just one rider.

Deputy chair Delia Rickard said despite the dangers inherent in riding a quad bike, many saw it as easy.

"This may contribute to some users becoming complacent about safety," Ms Rickard said.

Since the 10-year report was finished, its authors admit the problem was growing worse.

In 2011, 23 people died while riding a quad bike - the most since 21 deaths were recorded in 2002.

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