ATV Safety

July 2005
ACC statistics from 2003 indicate over 850 accidents causing injury as a result of use and misuse of ATVs, mainly on farms. This is believed to be a substantial underestimate because some accidents are not reported, and in reality the figure today is probably well over 1000 per year at least three serious farm bike accidents a day.

Last year a 12-year old was killed on an ATV, and recently the coroner in the case together with OSH recommended that ATVs be done away with. That is not going to happen. Federated Farmers has pointed out that industry guidelines for the use of ATVs were agreed by OSH, ACC, Federated Farmers and other industry players in 2002. If these were adhered to then the number of accidents would decrease dramatically.

The majority of ATV accidents occur on flat ground, not on hills or rolling land as you might expect. This may be because riders are less careful on the flat or less alert for danger, go too fast, or are not concentrating.

There are about 80,000 farm bikes in daily use around the country, and because of the inherently dangerous situations farm staff often find themselves in they need training in how to handle the machines, how to anticipate and avoid problems, and how to get themselves out of dangerous situations if they occur.

FarmSafe is an organisation that provides programmes to train farm staff and to up-skill farmers. It is a joint venture between Federated Farmers, ACC, the Agricultural Industry Training Organisation, and Telford Rural Polytechnic, and provides general safety awareness programmes and specific skills training.

Free two-day courses in ATV safety are held around the country.

Some of the things they focus on are:

Selecting the right gear for the terrain you are riding on

Active riding techniques -- on flat terrain at moderate speeds you need a different riding technique to ensure that weight goes on to back wheels

Dealing with problems when riding uphill -- if the bike skids or stops and something goes wrong how best to extract yourself on the situation, how-to dismount, stop the machine and reverse it down

Carrying loads on ATVs:

Towing implements -- how much down weight to put on the drawbar

Use of helmets

Other safety points:

Never allow children to operate an ATV 15 years or older

Dont carry passengers

Get rid of any three-wheeled ATVs

Check out the ATV before you ride - familiarise yourself with its controls

Fit full foot plates to the ATV to avoid operators inadvertently putting their feet down on the ground and risking injury from the rear wheel

Wear sturdy footwear, trousers, a long-sleeved top, suitable eye protection, and a helmet

Reduce your speed to suit the terrain and conditions if they are unsuitable for ATVs, then walk.

Maintain and service the ATV regularly, and repair any serious defects immediately or immobilise the machine until they are fixed

Dont overload trailers, and make sure the load is placed so that there is slightly more weight on the tow bar.