Coroner says it is time to act on quad bike deaths

QUAD bike owners could need a licence to ride and be forced to wear helmets to stamp out the "leading cause of death" on Queensland farms.

Other possible solutions to the problem could include forbidding children under 16 from riding them, or at least adult size bikes, prohibiting passengers and a safety star rating similar to one used now for new cars.

Coroner John Lock will investigate seven recent quad-bike related deaths - on properties from Toowoomba to Townsville - and make recommendations to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences in the future.

He said, during a pre-inquest hearing in Brisbane on Tuesday, that he knew some of the possible recommendations were controversial but it was time they were explored.

Feedlot supervisor Geoffrey Moore, 51, died after driving a faulty quad bike, that was awaiting repair, through a barbed wire fence at his workplace in Grassdale, near Dalby, on March 6 or 7, 2012.

An 11-year-old boy died after rolling an adult-sized quad bike on his family's property near Toowoomba and becoming trapped on September 15, 2012.

Zoe McInnes, 28, fell off her quad bike while driving home in the early hours from a party on a property near Kingaroy on June 19, 2013. She was not wearing a helmet and died from head injuries.

Mr Lock will also look into the deaths of Gregory Hoare, 42, at a cattle station near Bowen, Reginald Bauchamp, 86, in a cattle yard near Longreach in 2013 and a 40-year-old man carrying a nine-year-old pillion passenger near Townsville in January this year.

Some names have been suppressed under a court order.

Counsel assisting the coroner Peter De Waard said there had been 170 quad-bike related deaths since 2001 and Queensland was leading the country.

Of the 20 reported in Australia last year, he said more than half were Queensland.

"So far this year, five of the six reported quad-bike related deaths in Australia were also in Queensland," he said.

Mr De Waard said there could be an eighth death added to the inquest but he was still speaking with the family.

He said the families involved thus far were hopeful "that some good can come out of their loss".

Mr Lock said he would not only look at the circumstances of the seven, or eight, recent deaths but from industry groups and others with an interest, such as universities completing studies.

He said he appreciated some of the possible solutions, to reduce quad bike fatalities, could be controversial but he wanted to bring some of them "to a head".

"They seem to have been aired continuously for a good decade now (according to) our research," he said.

"Whether or not I'm successful in making recommendations which are able to be implemented or not is one of reasons why I'm looking at a fairly wide-ranging inquiry.

"I appreciate if it was going to be easy it would have been done already."

The coroner will hear about the circumstances surrounding each of the deaths in August (6-8 and 11-12).

Safety and industry experts will give evidence in October(13-24).

 

Possible outcomes

  • Safety star rating system similar to new cars
  • Minimum safety design threshold for quad bikes sold in Queensland
  • Introducing mandatory training, licences and certification
  • Mandating helmet use
  • Forbidding children under 16 years to ride quad bikes, or at least adult size
  • Prohibiting passengers
  • Mandatory operator protection devices, such as rollover and crush protection

 

INQUEST: QUAD-RELATED DEATHS

March 6-7, 2012: Geoffrey Moore, 51, supervisor died in his workplace in Grassdale, near Dalby. Appears to have driven a faulty quad bike, that was awaiting repair, through a barbed wire fence. Died from head injuries. Not believed to be wearing a helmet.

September 15, 2012: 11yo boy, who was driving an adult sized quad bike on his family's property near Toowoomba, rolled and became trapped. Died from asphyxiation before help could arrive.

May 9, 2013: Gregory Hoare, 42, property manager of a cattle station near Bowen. Rode his quad bike straight through a barbed wire gate which he did not appear to have seen. By time help arrived it was too late.

June 19, 2013: Zoe McInnes, 28. Fell off her quad bike while driving home in the early hours of the morning from a party on a property near Kingaroy. Died from head injuries. Not wearing a helmet.

December 27, 2013: Reginald Bauchamp, 86. Died due to head injuries after rolling from a quad bike in a cattle yard near Longreach. Not wearing a helmet.

January 3, 2014: 40yo man was carrying a 9yo boy as a pillion passenger on his quad bike on a property near Townsville. Boy became trapped and died from asphyxiation. The man died from chest injuries.

* Some names have been suppressed under a court order.


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