Monday, January 7, 2013


Granny Herald apparently has an op/ed on quad bike safety and possible helmet laws following the normal seasonal upsurge in accidents.

After a few years of development in the 70s and early 80s, using two wheel bikes in a revolution in increasing mobility on NZ farms, ATVs in the form of "trikes" made their appearance.

The inherent  instability of those little monsters led to the quadbike innovation around 25 years ago.

As an addition to the "tools" on many farms the quad was possibly the most significant introduction since electricity.

As a big boys toy, recreational use rapidly followed.

Sadly driver training, awareness and appropriate use never followed along on vehicles that are always recommended for a single fully trained rider only and no passengers.

The very sad case of the little girl, Ashlee, at Waimarama beach in Hawkes Bay where speed, overloading, inappropriate use and maybe alcohol converged to send that wee soul to Starship hospital. From the post header select any or all. How many "helmets would have been available on the beach at midnight", sheesh.
Yesterday a middle aged farmer died on a road at Rakaia. He might have been dead when he crashed his quad going to check irrigation, deciding that is what a coroner does for a living.
Pre xmas another life was lost in the Catlins when a youth "ran out of good ground and went over a bluff.

Quad-bikes c 2013 are similar to F1 cars, light, powerful, stable and very useful for entertainment and flirting with speed, however unlike the F1 car there are so many out there, accessible to all and sundry, nearly every farm has at least one and some have a dozen or more. Simple to start, mount, put in gear and many do not even have a clutch. A child can ride them and all too often they do but in the case at Waimarama delayed frontal lobe development leading to immature assessment of ability, ends  in tragedy.

Talk of lap belts, licencing, helmets, roll bars and any other stupid knee-jerk reaction will have zero effect on the seasonal rash of incidents where the exponentially exploding numbers of these "toys" are involved.

As with the similar call for Legislation to solve a perceived problem some 50 years ago when in response to a rash of accidents involving children on tractors the government made it illegal for a child under 12 to ride on a tractor. We commenced driving them at around 7/8 years old and could drive while Dad fed hay out, cultivation, raking hay etc.
I only recall a couple of instances where that legislation came into play when an already grieving family had the additional shadow of a prosecution along with a badly damaged or dead child.
Where and when will compliance become operational, probably when the Ambos and or the Firemen disclose what happened and ACC make the call to plod.

I took a spin on My little brothers 2012 model Suzuki King Quad between farms recently and was horrified to find it was traveling  at over 80kph in seconds, it felt like only 40-45. No I was not wearing a helmet but slowed real quick.

Darwin provides the best solution but when a wee mite such  as Ashlee is in the "care" of idiots it wont work as the perps are still able to breed while the innocent victim is left fighting for her life at 'Starship'.

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