Quad bikes deadly for kids

Sam CarsonSam Cason’s fun weekend at a friend’s farm in regional Victoria ended when he was thrown from a 500cc quad bike. He was killed instantly.

Sam’s family had only recently moved from the city to Numurkah in regional Victoria when the accident occurred. Knowing little about quad bikes, his mum Emily says if she’d been asked, it is likely she would have given her permission for her 11-year-old to ride one, so long as he was wearing a helmet and under adult supervision.

“I didn’t realise how dangerous they are.”

Emily’s mission is now to ensure other parents are fully aware of how dangerous quad bikes are, to ensure no other child dies as a result of a quad bike, “and no other family has to live with the pain of losing their child in such a heartbreak devastating accident”.

It’s a sentiment echoed by RCH’s Professor Trevor Duke, the Deputy Director of Intensive Care (ICU).

Prof Duke says children involved in incidents with quad bikes have a high probability of sustaining major critical injuries.

“In my work in the ICU I have seen a number of children who have been injured or killed by quad bikes or off-road bikes of some sort. We see multiple fractures, internal injuries, head injuries or death.

“Quad bikes are very unstable if they don’t have all four wheels on the ground. If one or two wheels come off the ground, the quad bike is likely to roll onto its back and the rider is crushed.

“Kids under the age of 14 don’t have the physical strength or dexterity to ride a quad bike, especially over uneven terrain.”

According to the National Farm Injury Data Centre, four children died and 11 were injured in quad bike incidents in the three months from January to March this year alone, with quad bikes ranked as the number one cause of all non‐intentional injury deaths on Australian farms for the past four years.

Prof Duke says parental education and legislative change are needed on this issue to protect children.

“It’s irresponsible, but currently not illegal, for a six or seven-year-old to ride an adult-size quad bike without a roll bar, helmet or protective gear.

“No child under the age of 14 should ride a quad bike. Between the ages of 14 to 16, children should be restricted to a 90cc quad bike. Everyone should have to wear protective gear and a helmet.  This is consistent with good legislation in Massachusetts, USA, called Sean’s Law.”

Dr Warwick Teague, Director of the RCH Trauma Service, supports Prof Duke’s stance.

“The Trauma Service, together with other health and community partners, continues to show leadership on the issue of quad bike safety. What is needed without further delay is leadership from government and industry to both support and realise these essential legislative reforms. There a few more important goals for our society than preventing deaths and injuries in childhood. Without laws protecting children from the dangers of quad bikes, tragedies like Sam’s death will continue to occur.”

Quad bike safety featured heavily in a Farm Safety forum hosted by the RCH Trauma Service and the RCH Safety Centre last year, and the Trauma Service will soon begin further research to investigate injury and death of Victorian children due to quad bike injuries.

For further information about the dangers of quad bikes, see Emily’s blog Fight for Sam.