Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging parents and relatives to think twice before giving their children a quad bike for Christmas. The call follows a spate of deaths and injuries in recent years among young people riding the powerful four-wheel machines.
The UK government does not separate quadbike fatalities from vehicles like cycles, cars or motorcycles, so there’s no way of knowing the exact figures. However, the total road deaths figure for 2017-18 in the Other, or unclassified category was 98. Obviously not all of those 98 deaths occurred whilst rising a quadbike, on the public road, or on private land. By comparison 61 young people under 18 were stabbed to death in England and Wales in 2018 and 187 young people aged under 19 took their own lives in 2017.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth warned of legal restrictions on the use of quad bikes, as well as the risks posed by the vehicles in the hands of inexperienced riders.
“In recent years there have been a number of deaths and injuries involving quad bike or mini motorcycle riders on public roads,” he said. “Most of these incidents have involved children aged under 18.
“Quad bikes are generally designed for use off road by trained riders. Any road-legal quad bike requires the rider to be 17 years old or over, and to have paid tax and insurance. He or she is also required to wear a helmet and proper protective clothing. (This is not true, even a motorcyclist can legally ride in a mankini and a crash helmet – the legal position on quads is clear on the UK Gov website – Ed)
“Safe off-road riding requires an understanding of how a quad bike performs and how it can react at speed. For example, the risk of a rollover incident increases when a quad bike is travelling at speed, when carrying a heavy load or travelling through rough terrain. Injury risk is extremely high in a rollover, due to the weight of the quad bike and the lack of protection available to the rider.”
It’s not just children on quad bikes who pose the danger; there are considerable risks associated with miniature motorcycles, which children under 16 may ride on private land. “It’s worth remembering that many of these bikes can reach speeds of up to 60mph, they are not easy to control and therefore they pose a significant safety risk for children with little or no experience,” added Neil Worth. (IE recommends that parents enrol their children in an ACU approved off-road MX club and buy CE approved armoured riding kit – Ed)
“So if you are determined to give one of these for Christmas, please ensure your child receives proper training, always wears a helmet and proper safety clothing. Additionally, never let the child ride unsupervised.
“Please keep your children safe this Christmas. Don’t put their lives at risk by giving them the opportunity to ride fast, powerful machines until they have received proper training and have shown themselves capable of controlling them.”