News & Media

Quad Bikes and Kids Don't Mix

Thursday 10th Mar

A report was recently published by the University of Adelaide that warned again of the dangers of quad bikes. Quad bikes are a safety concern for all ages but especially children under age 16. The research found that in South Australia, between 2000 and 2014 half of the quad bike deaths were of children under age 161. As part of their research they also interviewed quad bike users and found that 44% allowed children under the age of 16 to ride, or sit as passengers, on quad bikes.1


Quad bikes are a normal, everyday piece of equipment for many Australian farmers often used to herd animals or travel on the farm. It is therefore not surprising that the study found that the majority of quad bike fatalities were on agricultural properties (59%). Many farms are family operated and have kids living on the farm. Kids commonly help out on the farm and may even be expected to help with farm jobs as part of their chores. One of the reasons participants indicated as the reason for buying a quad was for their children to use for farm work1. The age of the children given permission to ride quad bikes ranged from 4 to 15 years1. Some of the tasks children had been required to use a quad for included helping around the farm including checking sprinklers, general farm activities, getting sheep in and helping getting a quad back home1. Previous literature (Mattei et al., 2011; Pearce & Miles, 2015) has highlighted that children do not meet the physical strength, size or cognitive ability to ride a quad bike safely. Nationally 16% of all quad bike fatalities were children under age 161.


Quad bikes are not toys. Three participants said their children only rode quad bikes for recreational use1. Many of the participants indicated that they only had children on their quad bikes as passengers, most often for joy rides1. Some participants (15%) reported having five or more passengers on their quad bike at that same time1. Manufacturers of quad bikes state to never carry passengers on the quad bike as they are not designed for that purpose (Safe Work Australia, 2012).. Passengers and loads cause the quad bike to become more unstable and be more likely to have a rollover.  Of the eight fatalities in South Australia, seven were carrying a passenger (the eighth was carrying a load) and in three of those incidents the actions of the passenger caused the accident (the passenger inadvertently knocked the rider or quad controls)1. The nature of quad bikes is that anyone can get onto one and drive it because they do not require the rider to be of a particular size or have a certain level of balance unlike motorcycles.


Quad bikes are NOT safe and stable. It is often believed that quad bikes are “an all-terrain vehicle and therefore safe and stable to ride”1. This idea creates a false sense of safety for the rider when in fact quad bikes are the leading cause of unintentional death of all Australians on farms1. Participants were asked if they had been involved in a quad bike incident in the past; half had described themselves as having been involved in a quad bike incident1. Of those incidences, 61% reported the incident had occurred in grass and 61% had occurred in an open paddock1; two situations where a rider could easily think the conditions were safe.


Helmets are a key safety component for quad bike operation. In the 15 year period researched, 38% of fatalities suffered head injuries1. In South Australia none of the riders killed were wearing a helmet, five of the fatalities suffered head injuries and it is believed (by a health professional) that four would have survived their injuries if a helmet had been worn1. Over half (52%) of participants interviewed said that they never wear a helmet and 28% said that they did not have a helmet to use1.


Key safety messages:

  1. Children under 16 years should never ride or drive a quad bike.
  2. Quad bikes are not designed to carry passengers. Do not allow adults or children to be passengers on quad bikes.
  3. Quad bikes are not as stable and safe as they appear – they are prone to roll-over.
  4. Helmets should always been worn when riding a quad bike.

For more information check out our webpage on Quad Bikes:

To read the full report from the University of Adelaide, go to:


1. Wundersitz LN, Doecke SD, Raftery SJ, Harrison J (2015) Quad bikes in South Australia. An investigation of their use, crash characteristics and associated injury risks (CASR134), SafeWork SA, Adelaide.

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