Helmets polarising quad bike debate

19 Jan, 2012 01:00 AM
Quad-bike users have strong views on helmets and Crush Protection Devices (roll-bars).
Quad-bike users have strong views on helmets and Crush Protection Devices (roll-bars).

COMMENTS from readers about last week’s ‘hot helmets’ story, part of the ongoing debate about quad-bike safety, are demonstrating how polarised those with a view on the issue are.

A raft of ‘postings’ on the Farmonline web site ranged from expressing belief in the need for quad-bike users to wear head protection gear, to “nanny state” claims should the Queensland Government, even the Commonwealth, mandate the use of helmets.

Sadly, reports from Tasmania are of a bedside vigil for a young British woman who reportedly is on life support following an accident with a quad-bike when working on a dairy farm late last week.

Safety authorities remain hopeful that 2012 won’t see a repeat of the 23 farm-related deaths involving quad-bikes as the year unfolds.

A Farmonline submission by “Qlander” notes that “a pushbike-type skullcap with a brim and ventilation is what's needed” to safeguard quad-bike users.

It’s a line taken up by “Bushie Bill” who agrees there is a need to invent a better helmet while “PeterT” notes that anyone riding a quad-bike on his family’s property must wear a helmet.

“I have worn a full-face motocross style helmet with sun peak on 4-wheelers since 1985 and, as long as they are white, or light coloured, heat is not an issue,” he said.

PeterT wins support from “quad racer” who makes the point he never gets on his quad-bike without a full-face helmet when racing these machines in all seasons and temperatures.

“ATV (quad-bike) related deaths are occurring on farms, not race tracks where the perceived risk of death/injury is higher,” he writes.

“Helmets do save lives and not wearing them because of the heat is a poor excuse,” “quad-racer” said. “Your Akubra won't save your skull from being crushed,” he added.

And “blahblah” advises: “Let them (riders) choose whether to wear them (helmets),” adding “I think a little bit of discomfort is better than death or disablement.”

Meanwhile “Loc Hey” notes the irony of the “nanny state” legislating to mandate helmets only for a rider to potentially die from heat stroke while the yet-to-be-answered question of how any move to mandate for helmets would be policed continues to concern quad-bike users.

“I can’t see how a helmet is going to save lives (when) moving a mob of sheep from paddock-to-paddock,” “Lamb man” says.

Last word goes to “Realist” who points to the fact that motorists are still being booked for not wearing seat belts after 40 years of enactment.

“The facts are young people will continue to muster on quad-bikes regardless, and property owners will do what they like and bugger (Premier) Anna Bligh,” he said.

“Education is always the most effective solution and enforcement just does not work. If you don't believe that then look at the number of motorists booked for speeding over the holiday period,” Realist said.

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Frustrated Farmer
19/01/2012 7:21:10 AM

I agreed with the comment after that same story that said that the government can't organise themselves and they're trying to tell ordinary, hard working Australians what they should be doing! If farmers know the risks they should then be free to choose whether to wear or not wear a helmet. Roll bars are way too dangerous in my opinion and whilst for hard riding rather than droving we use helmets here, we would not install roll bars because we think that they could cause serious injury/death.
19/01/2012 8:15:40 AM

Currently in NSW farm workers must have adequate sun protection provided under OHS rules. Is there currently a helmet that fits OHS sun protection criteria?
19/01/2012 8:29:53 AM

Unless your strapped to the bike by a seatbelt or harness like in a side by side atv, rollbars are pointless and potentially deadly. Helmets while a great idea for the weekend hoon, are pointless riding drag behind sheep on dead flat ground at less then 5kph.
Jen from the bush
19/01/2012 10:06:15 AM

We supply helmets however picture how this works. Working at yards 30kms from station and plans change and bike needs to be used by 1 staff. Is his helmet there - no he has a big head. Or bike needs to go on a job for 2 hours but then the staff of the bike needs to do job other than bike. Where is his sunhat? Another staff turns up there and needs to do a job on the bike - where is his helmet? End up having to drag along a trailer with every different size helmet on board or all staff don their helmets in the morning to wear all day whether they get to ride a bike or not.
19/01/2012 10:42:13 AM

All true, Frustrated Farmer. In our business, every time we go out to the houseyard gate we are exposing ourselves to risks, aren't we, vehicles, tractors, heavy machinery, bikes, large domestic animals & native animals, aircraft used for mustering, all of which can kill & maim. We need to recognise, assess & respect these risks, & as you say, choose our response. And I can't imagine wheeling a mob of toey shorn wethers or weaners in thick scrub with that roll bar sticking up behind me, that's asking for an accident.
19/01/2012 12:53:35 PM

I'm sitting here in the USA watching motorbikes ride up and down the main street with riders NOT wearing helmets. I went into the local sportstore yesterday where I can buy most types of rifles, a crossbow, a slingshot and even a paintball gun. If I want to buy ammo for my 223 I just purchased it's $6 a box of 20. I think Australia is already a nanny state and an expensive one at that. The government's got their hands in every cookiejar.
19/01/2012 3:22:18 PM

Bushy Jen, Thats all very well, but when one of your workers dies then as an employer you will be liable to pay compensation. I am also pretty sure that a sun hat could quite easily be carried on a quad.
19/01/2012 5:39:17 PM

I'm an agronomist and we use quad bikes on a daily basis. While it is not mandatory to wear a helmet, I think helmets should be given as and option to the employee. We have helmets in each of our cars and I advise our bug checkers every morning "that they should wear a helmet and if they chose not to they are doing so at their own risk". I say this every morning and I get the same response every time, that typical 'nothing will happen to me attitude' is rife. The attitude needs to change! I'm not comfortable letting the boys leave without a helmet, but I cannot force them to wear it. Win lose.
19/01/2012 6:08:23 PM

So true Bigdog. Australia has laws on top of laws. And it's all about some politician big noting him or herself. Must be nice to have so much free time that some can only go around and pester others with BS.
NQ Grazier
19/01/2012 8:03:38 PM

I have been wearing a full face helmet with peak and flip up visor since the early 80's on 2 and 4 wheelers. The helmet makes you sweat which is a cooling mechanism. You get used to that after a while and then you realise 1. your head is actually cooler than under an Akubra (but initially uncomfortable!) 2. You are totally prootected from the sun. 3. You no longer get banged in the nose by grasshoppers. However....at slow speeds behind a mob when there is no air flow, they become unbearable. There is a box on the quad that carries either hat or helmet. I prefer common sense to legislation.
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