Tour operators are pondering the likely effect of coroner’s recommendations on quad bikes, which are likely to lead to changes in Australian law.
NSW deputy state coroner Sharon Freund has recommended that a safety rating system be introduced for the vehicles, along with mandatory licences, helmets and seatbelts. Children under 16 are likely to be banned from riding quad bikes.
Adventure tour operators use the bikes to take tourists around, including children.
Freund has been investigating a string of fatal quad bike accidents over the past decade. There have been a total of 19 quad bike deaths in Australia in 2015 and a recent inquest in Queensland recommended that children under the age of 16 be banned from riding them.
One place the bikes are used is Stockton Beach near Newcastle, which is renowned for its giant sand dunes. Said to be the largest moving sand mass in the southern hemisphere, Stockton runs from Anna Bay to Newcastle Harbour. Quad bike sand safaris are popular.
The owner of one Stockton quad bike tour company told ABC News the coroner’s recommendations could have big ramifications for his industry.
Giles Donovan told the broadcaster his tours are always speed controlled and highly supervised over a safe course. His business on the Stockton sand dunes allows riders from eight years old to participate. If the coroner’s recommendations were enacted, that would become illegal.
The tourism industry already has tough voluntary standards, Donovan argued.
“Obviously we’re already using helmets,” he said.
“If we have to put to put seatbelts on we’ll put seatbelts on, we’re actually looking at roll bars already for bikes to help support better safety records.
“We will follow the recommendations, but I would point out that historically the tourism industry has never suffered any substantial injuries in any way.”
Donovan argued for children to be able to use smaller quad bikes in highly supervised and speed-controlled situations.
Edited by William Sykes