Surgeons have welcomed a number of mandated design changes to new quad bikes and have urged further reform to the industry.

The new standards, which came into effect on 11 October, require all new and imported second-hand general use quad bikes to be fitted with an operator protection device (OPD) or have one integrated into their design, and to meet minimum requirements for stability.

The changes follow recommendations from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in 2019 which were made in response to 136 people dying in quad bike accidents in the eight years prior, 60 per cent of which the ACCC attributed to rollovers.

RACS spokesperson Professor Warwick Teague, said that the changes were much needed and long overdue.

“The new changes could not have come fast enough, and lives will be saved thanks to their introduction. Since the time of the 2019 announcement, Australia experienced its highest annual death toll in 2020 with 24 quad bike fatalities. So far this year, a further six fatalities have been recorded.”

Dr Teague said that while he applauded the new changes it was important that the public understood the inherent risks involved with older quad bikes, particularly when children are involved.

“These changes do not apply to second-hand quad bikes unless they are being imported. Quad bikes are the leading cause of death and injury on Australian farms, and there are still so many of these older models being sold and ridden across Australia. I urge governments to implement measures to address the dangers posed by the legacy fleet.

“Furthermore, at this stage, youth and sports quad bikes do not have to be fitted with an OPD due to the lack of testing of after-market OPDs designed for these categories. This is despite children being overrepresented in the number of quad bike fatalities.

“Rather than see this type of testing occur, I would like to see a complete ban placed on children riding quad bikes of any size. Sadly, kids and quad bikes are a toxic mix and I do not believe there is any safe way for children to ride these dangerous machines.”