Calls to ban children from quad bikes

People under the age of 16 should be banned from riding quad bikes, and doing so should be made an offence, a report due out next month will recommend.

The safety study, funded by WorkCover and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, will also recommend training courses provided by manufacturers and the compulsory wearing of helmets.

The head of trauma at the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Danny Cass, held a summit with quad bike manufacturers and reinforced the message that nobody under 16 should get on a quad bike.

Raphael Grzebieta, the chairman of Road Safety at the transport and road safety research unit at the University of NSW, led the study, which looked at stability, handling and crash worthiness of quad bikes and side-by-side two-seater vehicles.

''If people use quad bikes then they should train themselves to use them,'' Professor Grzebieta said. ''We are suggesting training should be mandatory and wearing of helmets should be mandatory.

''Anyone under the age of 16 should not be riding quad bikes and it should be an offence.''

A paper presented by the unit said safety could be improved by using performance-based tests to provide consumers with vehicle safety ratings.

Professor Cass said manufacturers recommended that no child under 16 should either drive or be a passenger on a quad bike.

He said quad bikes were designed to be ridden like a motorbike but, because they did not have shock-absorbing springs, all impact had to be absorbed by the tyres.

''If you go over a rock or the root of a tree, then the tyre will almost flatten to the rim of the wheel, then, as it comes off, it will rebound with a kick,'' he said.

''A child is incredibly unsuited to a quad bike. They can get high power with very little effort and the steering is quite tricky, particularly if they hit a rough surface.''

Since 2000, about 140 Australians have died in quad bike incidents. Most deaths were a result of head injuries, asphyxia or serious chest injuries from overturned vehicles.

Twenty-one children under the age of 16 were injured in quad bike accidents in Australia last year, representing 27 per cent of all injuries.

Nationally, 21 people died - three of those were aged 16 and under.

The youngest was a five-year-old who was killed in August at Parkville, near Scone, when a quad bike driven by his father rolled down an embankment into a dry dam.

Professor Tony Lower of the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety welcomed legislation for helmets, with coroner's data showing a third of quad-bike deaths involved head injuries.

Girl loses vision after quad bike accident

Gracie Townsend, 10, was at a friend's farm tadpoling when they dropped their jam jar in the dam.

She rode back to the house on a quad bike to get a replacement.

As she was heading back to the dam she lost control of the bike, catapulted over the handlebars and over a barbed wire fence into a concrete feed trough.

The friend's father took her to emergency at Parkes and when her mum, Lyn Townsend, arrived she was covered in mud and blood and had her neck in a brace.

Gracie, now 14, sustained severe injuries to her teeth and gums, two broken jaws, two fractures to the cheek and a shattered eye socket in the 2010 accident.

''The doctor realised there was something going on with her injured eye so he decided to fly her to Sydney on Mediflight - normally you would go in the helicopter but there was a boy in Forbes who'd had a quad bike accident that exact same day,'' Ms Townsend said.

''There's no brain damage, which is amazing given the amount of injuries she had. She has about 8 per cent vision in the injured eye which didn't open for four months after the accident.''