1465 kids hurt on quad bikes in 4 years

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 11/01/2013

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More than 1400 children - 700 aged 9 or under - have been injured while on quad bikes or other all-terrain vehicles in the past four years.

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.

Among those were 260 children aged 4 or under, 472 children aged between 5 and 9, and 733 aged 10 and over.

The statistics follow a quad-bike crash in Hawke's Bay that critically injured Ashlee Shorrock, 6, last week.

Ashlee was on the bike with four adults when it crashed down a roadside bank.

Police are awaiting the results of a blood-alcohol analysis and a vehicle inspection before considering charges.

A farmer aged in his 40s is also believed to have been killed in a quad-bike accident at Rakaia, near Ashburton, last Saturday.

The ACC figures cover all accidents - work and non-work and those that occurred on public roads, farms and beaches.

Most accidents involved males (8236, females 2874) and about 65 per cent of claims were for non-work accidents (7156, work 3944).

Injuries to children on quad bikes was one of several practices the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had been clamping down on, health and safety operations general manager Ona de Rooy said.

Quad-bike users were legally required to ensure the bikes were used safely and that passengers were carried only on bikes designed to do so.

"The reality is that farms are also family homes, and we absolutely understand the need for children to be in a farming environment, but it's critical that the right vehicle is being chosen for the job," Ms de Rooy said.

"Clearly to pop a couple of kids on the back of a vehicle not suited for passengers is not choosing the right vehicle. You don't get second chances, and I guess that's the tragic side of things we see in this; the huge family and community impact when a child is harmed."

During a national campaign on quad-bike use, which has involved farm visits since July 2011, the ministry issued 319 improvement notices and 323 written warnings.

Inspectors were now revisiting farms to ensure compliance, Ms de Rooy said.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said recreational users were giving quad-biking a bad name.

"We hear with horror about that little girl in Hawke's Bay on a massively overloaded quad bike with alcohol involved. It's horrific. These are not toys - they are powerful, dangerous agricultural machines," Mr Wills said.

He said "ninety-nine point nine per cent" of farmers were trained in operating quad bikes safely, wore helmets and kept their vehicles properly maintained.

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Quad bikes were an "absolute necessity" for farmers, who could not afford any restrictions on their use.

Recreational users needed to use more common sense, he said.

ACC figures for the past three years show that most accidents happen in Auckland, where 360 claims were lodged between 2010 and 2012.

This was followed by the Far North with 308, Christchurch city with 255, Waikato with 239 and Hastings with 185.

Riders breaching rules on public roads can be charged by police.

Police were unable to say how many charges had been laid specifically related to quad bikes.

There are more than 100,000 ATVs in New Zealand, most of which are on farms. There are several types of licences for the bikes, depending on where and how they are used, but the New Zealand Transport Agency says "passengers should only be carried on quad bikes that have been specifically designed for this purpose".

QUAD ACCIDENTS

ACC claims involving quad bikes and other all-terrain vehicles (includes motorbikes with 3 or 4 wheels) in 2008-2012: 11,084 non-fatal ACC claims. 26 accidental death claims. $29 million paid out. 260 involved children aged 4 or under. 472 involved children aged 5-9. 733 involved children aged 10-14. 8236 involved males. 2874 involved females.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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