Australian Motorcycle Council REVIEW OF DESIGN AND ENGINEERING CONTROLS FOR IMPROVING QUAD BIKE SAFETY

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1 Australian Motorcycle Council Submission to: REVIEW OF DESIGN AND ENGINEERING CONTROLS FOR IMPROVING QUAD BIKE SAFETY About the Australian Motorcycle Council The Australian Motorcycle Council (AMC), is a single national body established in 1981 to reflect the collective views and issues of its State and Territory based member organizations. The AMC functions within a very broad arena, dealing with Australian Standards, Australian Design Rules, road safety matters, all national legislation pertaining to motorcycles, the promotion of motorcycling, road and recreational activities, the public image of motorcycling, representation of motorcycling issues at a federal and international level and more, and deals directly with governments, industry and a diversity of associated organisations. Contents General Observations 2 Available Crash Data 2 What is known about Quad Bike Crashes 3 International Situation 7 Current Research in this Area 7 AMC Perspective 8 Questions for Comment 9 Page Australian Motorcycle Council, PO Box 514, Carina, QLD, 4152

2 General Observations The Australian Motorcycle Council treats quad bikes (also called ATVs) as a sub-set of vehicles used in offroad motorcycle activity. The term off-road motorcycle activity as a definition suffers from lack of precision, being open to multiple interpretations. Each different activity brings with it, specific and often unique risk management issues. Any specific activity brings with it an overlap of vehicle types. There is no single agency that deals with off-road motorcycle use. As a consequence, efforts at safety education are often confused with other issues, such as noise, environmental concerns or use of unregistered vehicles in a road-related area. In most cases, interventions are not education or training, but one form of enforcement or another that results in simply shifting the location of the perceived problem. Quad bike safety is not a single issue, but a thread in a broad fabric. Quad bikes or ATVs are classified generally as motorcycles. Farm use of quad bikes is a sub-set of off-road use. Organised motor sport competition allows for safety and supervision of various classes of motorcycles, Quad bikes and other unregistered off-road equipment, such as dune buggies. Outside of regulated competition rules and the various Motor Sports Acts, use of these vehicles in off-road areas has no responsible or prime reference agency. Lack of lead agencies for off-road injury in any State compounds difficulties in discovering useful detail of quad bike casualty crashes. Off-road injury data can be awkward to dissect. How the data is collected can lead to distortions that must be clarified. One area may have very detailed data, yet be a relatively small proportion of all off-road crashes. Lack of leadership appears to have characterised quad bike safety and we applaud Mr Shorten for his initiative. Available Crash Data On-road crash data is readily available and co-ordinated. All states and territories have agreed to work towards the implementation of the minimum dataset described in Austroads Report No. AP126 A minimum common dataset for the reporting of crashes on Australian roads (Austroads 1997) 1. Police reports provide the bulk of data fields. On-road crash data is forwarded by each State or Territory to compile the national ATSB Fatals File 2 administered by the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Transport. It is important to note that the data held is simply descriptive and does not provide evidence of causal factors. Injury data is held at the State level and quite variable between States. No such minimum dataset exists for off-road crashes. To obtain useful data on off-road crashes we must look elsewhere. The National Coronial Information System (NCIS) is a national internet based data storage and retrieval system for Australian coronial cases. Information about every death reported to an Australian coroner since 1 https://www.onlinepublications.austroads.com.au/items/ap Australian Motorcycle Council ATV Committee

3 July 2000 (January 2001 for Queensland) is stored within the system The NCIS is an initiative of the Australasian Coroners Society, is based at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) and managed by the Victorian Department of Justice. NCIS is the prime source of data for off-road quad bike and motorcycle fatality information. Care is needed in interpretation, as again, the data is descriptive only and does not provide evidence of causal factors. Incorrect interpretation may lead to incorrect conclusions and inappropriate interventions. A useful, but limited report regarding motorcycle injury is from the Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) 3 who looked at fatalities between and injuries in Victoria and report:- Injury patterns were similar in on- and off-road cases. No off-road fatalities were caused by a collision with another motor vehicle. Most deaths were caused by multiple internal and head injuries. Consistent with the pattern for off-road motor-cycling fatalities, the major cause of off-road hospitalisations was non-collision transport accidents (66%), followed by collision with fixed or stationary object (13%) (The cause was unspecified in 14% of off-road cases). Location data for off-road motorcycling hospitalisations was unreliable: 41% of cases were coded to unspecified location, farms (11%). Another useful report is from Queensland, where Steinhardt et al used hospital statistics to examine off-road and on-road motorcycle crashes in rural and remote North Queensland 4 :- Around 30% of hospital admissions as a result of a motorcycle crash were non traffic. Off-road motorcycle crash admissions were 2.7 times higher than for cars, utes, trucks. Quad bikes were not identified as a separate category. Work related use of motorcycles in hospital admissions was around 26%. When inspecting general data on casualties and fatalities, quad bikes do not stand out from the background data. There is a high need for crash data to be gathered that is representative of all quad bike related incidents. What is known about Quad Bike Crashes Our understanding of quad bike crashes and resultant casualties in Australia is based on the fatality data collected by NCIS. Fragar et al 5 inspected NCIS data and notes that from , there were 124 ATV related deaths in Australia. Of the 124 cases in the NCIS Register, 75 involved the use of a quad bike that was either located or intended for use on an agricultural property. Another 30 were classified as non-agricultural and the remaining 19 were of unknown status. Fragar summarises ATV fatalities from NCIS data in Table 2 below. 3 Erin Cassell, Angela Clapperton, Mary O Hare & Melinda Congiu, On- and off-road motorcycling injury in Victoria Hazard (Edition No. 64) Spring 2006 Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) 4 Steinhardt, Dale and Mary, Sheehan and Victor, Siskind (2006) A comparison of offroad and onroad crashes in rural and remote Queensland. In Proceedings 2006 Australian Road Safety Research, Policing, Education Conference, Gold Coast, Queensland. 5 Fragar, Herde, Pollock, Quad Bike Deaths in Australia, Farmsafe Australia, 2009 Australian Motorcycle Council ATV Committee

4 Source: ACAHS Register of Quad Bike Deaths 6 In 2008, Morton, Fragar and Pollock 7 analysed injury deaths arising from use of different vehicles on farms. The Table below from their paper shows the relative importance of quad bikes. In the same publication, the following Table shows the mechanism of injury and age of the victim for quad bikes:- 6 Australian Centre for Agricultural Health & Safety, (ACAHS) 7 Morton C, Fragar L and Pollock K. Vehicle injury associated with Australian Agriculture The Facts 2008, Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, University of Sydney. Australian Motorcycle Council ATV Committee

5 Rollover of quad bikes used on farms is a specific issue. Nine out of 10 rollover fatalities occur on farms 8. Rollover and subsequently becoming pinned by an ATV is also a very real problem, as shown in the Table below 9, with 12 cases of asphyxiation leading to death (marked). Table 9: Primary Cause of Death Category Injury ICD 10 Code No. of Cases Circulatory System Acute myocardial infarction I21 1 Chronic ischaemic heart disease I25 1 Respiratory System Other symptoms involving respiratory systems R09 1 Head Injury Fracture of skull and facial bones S02 8 Intracranial injury S06 11 Other and unspecified injuries of the head S09 16 Neck Injury Fracture of Neck S12 6 Injury of nerves and spinal cord at neck level S14 1 Injury of blood vessels at neck level S15 1 Crushing injury of neck S17 2 Other and unspecified injuries of neck S19 1 Thorax Injury Injury of other and unspecified intra-thoracic organs S27 3 Crushing injury of thorax S28 10 Other and unspecified injuries of thorax S29 1 Injury of intra-abdominal organs S36 3 Injury of Heart S26 1 Crushing injury of abdomen, lower back and pelvis S38 1 Hip/thigh Injury Injury of blood vessels at hip and thigh level S75 1 Multiple Injuries Other injuries involving multiple body regions, NEC T06 5 Unspecified multiple injuries T07 11 Other Asphyxiation T71 12 Drowning T Unknown 25 Total 124 Source: ACAHS Register of Quad Bike Deaths 8 Fragar, Herde, Pollock, Quad Bike Deaths in Australia, Farmsafe Australia, ibid Australian Motorcycle Council ATV Committee

6 The Tables shown above are not all consistent in their years of reporting. The NCIS source data overlaps but the general picture is clear. In particular, Table 2 indicates all quad bike fatalities (n=124), of which farm fatalities (n=25) form only a portion (20%). Recreational use also generates fatalities from quad bike crashes. Studies indicate similar injury severity scores for both motorcycle and quad bike crashes, but that mortality from quad bike crashes is higher 10. Quad bike riders are more severely injured and younger than motorcycle riders 11. What is inescapable from the fatality data is that quad bikes tip over, for various reasons, such as hitting something unexpected, terrain or rider error and that location has an influence. Like motorcycle safety ten years ago, quad bike safety is now a new area for research with its associated contest for research funds. The essential problem is described in fatality data, but this does not lead directly to an understanding of the causative factors and their relative significance for work-related quad bike use, recreational use or use by small children. Unsupervised, untrained or poorly-supervised use by children may also be indicated. It is likely that some people believe a quad bike is safer than a motorcycle as it appears more stable when stationary. The factors that stand out from recreational use by children are untrained use, using a quad bike with passengers, in confined spaces such as a backyard or over rapidly varying terrain 12. When used on sloping terrain or across rapidly undulating ground, rider competence issues arise. Quad bikes, like motorcycles, are straddle-seat rider active vehicles, requiring the rider to move their body to maintain stability. The relative mass of an ATV to the position and size of the rider is significant to vehicle control and stability arises from this. Potential engineering controls to improve stability appear limited and in any case will remain dependent upon rider skill. However, quad bike use on slopes remains a problem. The Table below is from Fragar 13. We know virtually nothing about the circumstances of the above incidents and their relationship to the broader group of all quad bike casualty crashes. Nor do we know how frequent these crashes are in relation to the number of successful manoeuvres across the types of terrain tabled above. 10 Villegas C.V., Bowman S., Schneider E.B., Haut E.R., Stevens K.A., Efron D.T. The hazards of off road motor sports: Are four wheels better than two? Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2010;211(September (3)) 11 Scott, A., Dansey, R., Hamill, J., Dangerous toys. ANZ Journal of Surgery 81 (3), Soundappan S.V, Holland, A, Lam, L, Roy, G, Evans, J, Adams, S, Cass, D, Off-Road Vehicle Trauma in Children: A New South Wales Perspective Pediatric Emergency Care: Dec 2010 Vol26 No 12 pp Fragar, Herde, Pollock, Quad Bike Deaths in Australia, Farmsafe Australia, 2009 Australian Motorcycle Council ATV Committee

7 It is a priority to begin to collect the crash data necessary to accurately identify and quantify the problem areas with quad bikes. This data needs to be representative of all quad bike crashes whether fatal, casualty or incident only. Without adequate data to provide perspective, research and interventions lack guidance. International Situation QB036 - Australian Motorcycle Council Inc Ninety percent of the 10 million or so quad bikes are in the USA, where large fleets are operated safely by various government agencies. It is clear that Australia has plenty to learn, but has yet to do so. Parochialism may have intruded to limit thinking, or more likely, lack of any responsible agency has resulted in both offroad motorcycles and quad bikes being regarded as a problem to be disposed of by those agencies with a partial interest. We must be careful to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to the sudden awareness of a safety issue. An attempt to introduce inappropriate strategies may be counterproductive and miss the point. New Zealand s Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) has released some statistics on quad bike incidents in support of its release of three new agricultural safety publications. Research from the Otago University is quoted: Three farmers or agricultural workers died and nearly 300 were injured in quad bike accidents on farms last year, according to ACC claims figures. The research from Otago University forecasts that in any given year farm workers will lose control of quad bikes on approximately 12,645 occasions, resulting in about 1400 injuries. Not all of these will be registered as workplace injury claims with ACC. If these statistics for overall quad bike incidents are expressed in the OHS Safety Pyramid developed by H. W. Heinrich 14, then it looks like the Figure below. Figure 1 OHS Safety Pyramid for Quad Bike Incidents 15 Current Research in this Area The New South Wales government 16 has committed to improving quad safety, investing $1 million, so University of NSW s Transport and Road Safety research facility can independently analyse the stability of quad bikes and the effectiveness of crush-protection devices. There is limited information publicly available regarding the detail of this research program. A priority for the money should be the development of a well founded database to use in the analysis and testing of quad bikes in crash situations. 14 Heinrich H. W. (1931) Industrial Accident Prevention. 15 Jones K. (2010) New Zealand farm advocates talk briefly on quad bike safety, SafetyAtWorkBlog: News, commentary and opinion on workplace safety and health. 16 Honan K. and Partland L. (2012) NSW funds research on quad bike safety, ABC Rural Australian Motorcycle Council ATV Committee

8 AMC Perspective In recreational use of quad bikes, little is known about the comparative risk of injury or death. On farms, quad bikes are very versatile and used for a range of daily tasks. Overloading, inappropriate loading, carrying passengers and use of quad bikes beyond their design capability are all poor risk management, often accompanied by dire consequences. Some commentators recommend banning quad bikes to eliminate this safety issue. This is rejected by others as lazy minded thinking that fails to actually identify or address the causal factors. Side-by-side vehicles (SSVs) are readily available from ATV manufacturers and have the features that some commentators are demanding be fitted to Quad bikes. The 0.88 Static Stability Factor (SSF) for the Yamaha Rhino SSV is one of the lowest SSFs ever measured in comparison with the average values of 1.41 for passenger cars, 1.17 for SUVs, 1.18 for pickup trucks, 1.24 for minivans and 1.12 for full-size vans 17. However, SSV s are longer, wider, heavier and more expensive to purchase. In many work locations, SSVs are of little utility, such as in vineyards, where vine rows are too close together to allow an SSV to be used. The turn radius of an SSV is far larger than a quad bike, reducing their utility in horticulture or handling of stock. In channel irrigated horticulture, an SSV will bottom out and become stuck when crossing water channels, due to its longer wheelbase, despite having the same ground clearance as a quad bike. Some quad bikes have sophisticated differential arrangements, with front limited slip differentials on four wheel drive versions and dual mode rear differentials. More basic machines do not have a rear differential and rely on wheel slip to turn, resulting in a larger turn radius when loaded. The steering inputs required to turn a quad bike departing the shed with a full spray tank are quite different to the steering inputs required when returning empty. Operator training and risk assessment issues arise. We have no useful data to unambiguously identify specific crash causation factors. All we have is a description of the problem. Similar considerations of manoeuvrability apply to recreational use. With very limited areas in which to legally use a quad bike, areas of use are often unfamiliar, unmapped and uncontrolled for hazards. Many have learned to operate the controls of a quad bike, but have received no training in riding them safely, nor training in risk management in use. From an AMC perspective, we focus upon the identified items that quad bike riders can use to manage their own risks. A good operator is a good risk manager. Skills based training in quad bike riding Appropriate protective gear, including helmets Appropriate areas of use and no-go areas Manage risks in area of use No passengers Observe manufacturers loading guidelines It is difficult to identify any efforts by any agency of government to address any of the above issues with recreational riders. 17 Hu, H., Lu, W.J., Lu, Z., Impact crash analyses of an off-road utility vehicle - Part ii: Simulation of frontal pole, pole side, rear barrier and rollover impact crashes. International Journal of Crashworthiness 17 (2), Australian Motorcycle Council ATV Committee

9 Comments on Specific Questions (1) What design solutions and/or engineering controls could improve quad bike stability and safety? The following items noted here may be regarded as speculative concepts and not intended to be proscriptive. They are provided as examples of areas for inspection or engineering development. Helmet usage likely to reduce injuries. NCIS data in Quad Bike Deaths in Australia 18 indicates that 28% of quad bike deaths were directly due to head injuries. Emergency room data is not included, so we have little information on head injuries that may be reduced by helmet wearing. This simply highlights problems with current data and research beyond the basic description provided in the excellent studies of NCIS fatality data by Fragar. We know from other studies that helmeted motorcycle riders are 2 to 3 times less likely to receive head injuries compared to unhelmeted riders 19. There is little doubt that helmet use will reduce head injuries, but the effect on fatalities alone is less certain. Road and off-road motorcycle helmets complying with AS/NZS 1698 have appropriate protective capabilities for use with quad bikes, but are often rejected by farm workers due to lack of ventilation and a propensity for the cheek pads to collect burrs, sweat, dust and cause chafing. As an everyday item, such helmets get very stinky, very fast due to sweat and are generally not readily washable or durable after repeated washing. This is a helmet design problem. For the above reasons the design of available road helmets is not appropriate for their use on the farm. An effort to introduce the NZ ATV helmet Standard was opposed by the CS-076 Committee of Standards Australia, on the basis that the NZ helmet is not rated for protection at speeds greater than 30 km/hr. As a result, the choice is between an awful helmet and no helmet at all. The motorcycle industry has, for some time, advocated that quad bike riders wear a helmet equivalent to AS/NZS Implementation of mandatory helmet wearing will collide with the inappropriate design of current motorcycle helmets. It is possible to produce an ATV helmet with appropriate user-friendly features that also meets the protective qualities of the current Australian Standard for motorcycle helmets, AS/NZS We have some useful work that may be further developed. Safety campaigns from government agencies have been non-existent or desultory at best. Stability warning devices. The limits of stability of a quad bike in use on undulating terrain or in turning manoeuvres may be unknown to the operator. An appropriate and relatively inexpensive device may be utilised to provide signals to the operator via audible tones. The first level of audible tone to provide an indication that the quad has passed from a stable attitude to one that requires a rider response to return the machine to a stable attitude. A second audible tone may be provided to indicate the quad is being operated close to the limit of its stability. 18 Fragar, Herde, Pollock, Quad Bike Deaths in Australia, Farmsafe Australia, Ouellet, J. & Kasantikul, V. (2006a), Motorcycle Helmet Effect on a Per-Crash Basis in the Thailand and Hurt Studies, Proceedings of the 2006 International Motorcycle Safety Conference: The Human Element, Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Irvine, CA, Australian Motorcycle Council ATV Committee

10 In normal use, it is likely that the operator may cause the quad bike to momentarily enter each warning zone and thus learn from the signal responses, to restrict such manoeuvres. The particular qualities of the sound produced at each level requires careful selection, to encourage the operator to work with the sounds of a machine operating correctly, rather than being so annoying that the operator disables the device. Thus, the operator may be dynamically informed of manoeuvres that bring the quad into a relatively unstable attitude through everyday small incursions. For example, a first tone may be an indication to the operator that it is time to move their weight from their backside onto their feet. A quad will, in normal use over broken surface, pitch and roll within normal design limits due to soft, low inflation pressure tyres and short wheelbase. It is important that such a device not sound warnings unnecessarily, yet provide useful information to the operator and if the information is logged electronically, also provide management information in review. A device of this type is particularly relevant to the lowest level of the OHS Safety Pyramid (Figure 1 above), alerting the operator to near miss situations of which they might not be usually aware. In other words, the device would assist in training the operator regarding the limits of stability of the quad bike, assisting the operator in avoiding high risk situations. It is quite clear that using a related device to pre-warn of an impending roll-over is virtually impossible and that the best that could be hoped for is a signal that the quad bike has just crashed. Similarly, to arrange such an item to act upon other parts of the quad bike, such as shutting down the engine, may contribute to a crash through removing control from the operator. (2) What engineering controls could improve operator protection in the event of a roll over? Several of the proposed Crush Protection Devices, as they are now being labelled, are essentially roll-over protection structures (ROPS) or roll bars. Roll-over bars appear to be subject to confused debate. In other areas of vehicle operation, including that of road rollers and tractors, it is accepted that adding a roll-bar without the incorporation of appropriate operator restraint will increase injuries by capturing the operator into the crash. There is no reason to assume that a quad bike will be any different. Further, a restrained rider is only able to operate a quad bike in a restricted sense so the addition of an operator restraint is unsuitable. Work on the effectiveness of quad bike roll bars by John Zellner 20 at DRI has been criticised by some and there appears some validity to some of the criticism at the detailed modelling level, yet the basic principles and methodology applied appears very sound indeed. It appears that in debates, it has been forgotten that it is a given, that the fitting of any safety equipment must not cause any significant injury consequences. Further research to resolve the contentious issues may prove expensive. 20 Summary of ATV Roll Over Protection Research by John Zellner (Parts 1 and 2) Australian Motorcycle Council ATV Committee

11 Almost 9 out of every 10 ATV rollover deaths 21 occur on a farm and 10% of farm fatalities are from asphyxiation 22. Becoming pinned under an ATV after it has rolled appears a specific problem to be addressed. The following is speculative: It may be possible to utilise a post-crash inflatable to lift the ATV and provide low ground pressure such that breathing is possible, even if trapped under the inflatable. The problem is to maintain stability, avoid causing further injury and avoid further rolling of the ATV. (3) What engineering options could minimise the capacity of children to start and/or operate quad bikes? Current quad bikes are equipped with key based ignition systems similar to those fitted to motorcycles. It must be made clear to the vehicle owners that the keys are to be stored securely. (4) What engineering controls could minimise the capacity of a quad bike to carry passengers. Carry racks are fundamentally useful on quad bikes, to remove them significantly reduces utility. The long seat used by the rider for fore-aft weight shift needs to be retained for vehicle control, despite its apparent appearance as being suitable for passengers. There may be some utility in considering the design of the seat to restrict its use to the operator. Some efforts appear to have been made in this regard in quad bike design, to create only one available position for the operators legs and feet with wide bodywork, thus making carrying a pillion passenger difficult. 21 Fragar, Herde, Pollock, Quad Bike Deaths in Australia, Farmsafe Australia, ibid Australian Motorcycle Council ATV Committee

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