THE announcement by Polaris that it will introduce a hybrid quad bike (ATV)/side-by-side vehicle (SSV) with roll-over protection framing hasn’t changed the manufacturing industry’s stance opposing the fitting of roll bars to ATVs.
While SSVs incorporate safety framing in their design, the industry has been resisting calls by agricultural health authorities for the mandatory fitting of roll-over protection devices to ATVs.
The manufacturers’ representative body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), says the Polaris Ace, which is set to come onto the Australian market in April, is not an ATV, nor is it “a rider-active vehicle”.
“As a single seat side-by-side vehicle (SSV) it is completely in alignment with the current and long stated industry position, which includes Polaris, that ROPS (rollover protection structures) and CPDs (crush protection devices) should not be fitted to ATVs,” an FCAI spokesperson said.
“The world’s best research with injuiry monitoring crash test dummies shows ROPS and CPDs have the potential to cause more injuries than they prevent when fitted to rider-active ATVs.
“This new model from Polaris has a driving position similar to existing SSVs and thus it employs the similar combination of passenger restraint and ROPS already used widely by the industry.
“It is important to note that known safety practices and training help keep ATV users safe when using their vehicles.”
However, University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety director, associate professor Tony Lower, said the statement by the FCAI that the Polaris Ace was not an ATV was “complete semantics” that side-stepped the issue.
Mr Lower said he welcomed the move by Polaris to produce a quad machine with rollover protection.
“This is a very positive step by a major manufacturer that is long overdue and will have major impacts in the longer term on the safety of new quads entering the market,” he said.
“At the same time, we need to be fully aware that there are some 220,000 quads out there that do not contain such safety features, so retrofitting these will be vital to reduce the number of deaths and injuries that occur.”
Mr Lower said the development of the Polaris Ace demonstrated that safer machines could be produced.
“What this development indicates is that, despite all the scaremongering about rollover protection and crush protection devices from the manufacturers and FCAI, it is possible to develop a safer vehicle,” he said.
“It’s time other manufacturers followed the lead of Polaris and got on with improving the stability and safety of their product rather than laying all the blame solely on the users. Their delays in positive actions are costing people’s lives.”
Last year in Australia there were 18 deaths associated with quad bike use while 19 deaths were reported in 2012. Nearly one in five deaths involved children under 14 years old.