Operator protection devices, or roll bars, on quad bikes may significantly reduce rider injuries or the likelihood of death when a quad bike rolls sideways in an accident, according to a new United States Government study.
The study, which was commissioned by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, used various quad bike models and a test dummy to test the effectiveness of operator protection devices in rollover accidents at low or moderate speed.
Quad bikes are popular vehicles for work and play, and rollover incidents occur regularly, sometimes resulting in tragic consequences.
Since 2011, 149 people have died from quad-bike-related accidents in Australia, 23 of whom have been children. In addition, it is estimated six people present to an emergency department each day as a result of quad-bike-related injuries.
The report comes ahead of the Australian Government's quad bike safety standard becoming mandatory from October 11, under which all new and second-hand imported general use quad bikes sold must have a test tag attached indicating the angle at which they will roll over.
From October 11, 2021, all quad bikes must have a roll bar fitted.
The report from the US includes the result of lateral rollover tests conducted on six different quad bike models fitted with ATV Lifeguard and Quadbar roll bars and compared them to tests without a roll bar at what the researchers termed low and moderate speeds.
The low speed tests were conducted in scenarios that in many ways mimic Australian conditions and typical quad bike use.
“The study used state-of-the-art testing equipment including test dummies with sophisticated electronic sensors, and is perhaps the most rigorous real-world test of OPDs yet conducted,” ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said.
“The results support the ACCC's view that OPDs are likely to save lives.
“In low speed lateral rollover tests involving a quad bike with an OPD, significant impact between the quad bike and the crash test dummy was virtually eliminated.
“In contrast, in rollover tests of the same model quad bikes without an OPD, the test dummy was struck more than five times more often.”
Research indicates that in Australia, 80 per cent of quad bike accidents that have resulted in serious injury occurred at or below the low speeds tested.
Even at moderate speeds, the tests showed that an OPD resulted in fewer significant impacts between the quad bike and the test dummy.
Importantly, the test results also highlight that a vehicle's design can affect how it reacts in a rollover.
“One of the quad bikes tested performed markedly different to others, rolling over faster and further, and striking the test dummy more than any other quad bike with and without an OPD,” Mr Keogh said.
“Poorer performing vehicles like this one will no longer be able to be sold in Australia once the stability requirements become mandatory.
“This study shows why the Australian Government's safety standard is appropriate, and likely to reduce quad bike injuries and deaths.”