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Roll-bar debate rolls on

KERRY GALLAGHER
Last updated 12:08 17/01/2013
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QUAD SAFETY: Quad bike roll-bar maker Stuart Davidson of Orewa says attitudes need to change.

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Accidents have renewed calls for quad bike safety, but the maker of a safety device says attitudes are slow to change.

Stuart Davidson of Orewa makes ‘quad bars', an anti-roll device that attaches to the rear of the four-wheeled all terrain vehicles (ATVs).

But he says there has been resistance to the bars and the spate of accidents over Christmas and New Year show how this has to change.

Five quad bike incidents during the holiday included two deaths. Then another accident in Matamata on Monday resulted in serious injuries to a farmhand.

Since 2008, the Accident Compensation Corporation has paid $29 million on 11,084 claims for injuries and 26 claims for accidental deaths involving quad bikes and ATVs.

Mr Davidson says extended use of quad bars would help reduce these statistics.

"It's a good thing, it works well, and it saves lives. We've had people call us and say they have just had their life saved by it," he says.

"All I do is something that stops you getting crushed if it rolls on top of you. And that's a pretty big deal actually because these things weigh about 300kg so if they fall on top of you, you're probably going to die."

Mr Davidson cites one case where a rider drowned in about 30 centimetres of water because he could not get the quad bike off.

Mr Davidson is licensed to make the Australian-designed ‘quad bars' and sells them online. He has sold about 250 in two years.

Although there has been interest from the government in Australia in making roll-over protection compulsory, support has been slow to build here. Resistance from users, typically on farms, and a ‘wait and see' policy seems to apply here, he says.

Business Innovation and Employment Ministry health and safety operations general manager Ona de Rooy says the ministry believes roll-over protection is a personal choice.

Federated Farmers has questioned the bars' value.

"While rollover protection or ROPS has been looked into for quad bikes, the consensus is that they save as many lives as they take," spokesman Ian Mackenzie says. He says the key safety areas are ‘helmets, education, and training'.

Federated Farmers health and safety spokeswoman Jeanette Maxwell says it is recreational users not getting the safety message.

"Thirty-five farmers a day come off their quad bikes, so they are way up there in the statistics," Mr Davidson says.

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Visit quadbar.co.nz for information.

- Rodney Times

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