Why you need training to operate a quad bike safely

By Matthew Brett, Tocal College

Quad bikes are the number one killer on farms. Since 2001, there have been over 230 deaths from quad bikes.

Growing up and living on the farm, I have witnessed two close calls on quad bikes.

Once, my grandfather was paying attention to the stock rather than watching where the quad bike was going. The front wheel got on the downhill side of the track and the bike rolled over, taking him over the bank with it.

Luckily enough, he was okay, but he was pretty knocked about and bruised. We had to drag the bike out with the tractor.

Another day, my neighbour was helping me get the cows in for milking. He took the quad bike into a creek. There had been some recent flooding, but it didn’t look too bad. The cows went in fine as they normally do.

Once he took the quad bike in, water quickly got underneath it. On quad bikes, the big low pressure tyres float quite easily. The water picked the bike up and rolled him over, dunking him a couple of times.

He got out from underneath the bike; luckily he wasn't trapped under it. He made his way to the bank and then the bike ended up lodged on a little bit of an island in the middle of the creek.

In both those instances, these men were lucky to escape with their lives.

Quad bikes need to be operated with caution, they are not a toy, and you need to be properly trained to use them safely.

At Tocal College, our students are taught how to be a competent operator. Right from the very start they are taught to consider, is this the right vehicle that we should be using for this particular job on the farm?

There are a number of alternative vehicles to use instead of quad bikes, including utes, side by side vehicles, two wheel motorcycles and in some instances, horses.

At the College, we teach our students active riding techniques. Active riding involves using your body to help turn and control the quad bike; using your body as a counter-weight.

When you're going uphill, you put your weight on the front of the bike. When you're descending down a slope, you move to the back of the seat.

You've really got to pick your tracks straight up and down hills, look for obstacles, always using observation, anticipation and response techniques.

It's also important for quad bikes to have even tyre pressure. If you have a tyre that's under-inflated on the downhill side of a slope, the likelihood for that quad bike to keep tipping downhill is increased dramatically.

Before you ride, check your tyre pressure with a low pressure gauge. Also check your controls, your brakes and throttle, just to make sure that you know you're going to have as much stability as possible.

Many people have the attitude that riding a quad bike doesn’t require much skill or knowledge.

They think they don’t need to worry about learning how to ride a quad like they would for a two wheeled vehicle such as a motorbike.

Too often, this attitude results in accidents such as rollovers that could easily have been avoided.

Take quad bikes seriously and stay alive and well on your farm.