A seven-year-old boy has tragically lost his life after a quad bike accident on a family property in the New South Wales Riverina close to Griffith on Sunday.
The boy was riding with a friend, aged 9, when they took a turn and tipped the vehicle. While the older boy was able to jump out of the way as he fell, the seven-year-old became pinned under the bike, and also suffered from critical head injuries.
Although initially taken to Griffith Base Hospital, the youngster was later airlifted to Canberra Hospital in need of better facilities. At the time he was in a critical condition, and he died overnight.
Sources suggest that both the boys were wearing helmets when the accident occurred, but those helmets may not have been suitable for the riders. Inspector Kym Taylor, from the Griffith Local Area Command said that the bike at the centre of the accident, a Kanga 110cc, was probably suitable for the boys to be riding, but an inquiry was being undertaken into the helmets the pair were wearing.
“There’s certainly no suggestion that this boy was not being supervised at the time of the crash, but it just goes to show the dangers of some of the activities undertaken by young children and the possibility of serious and even fatal injury,” she said in speaking to the ABC.
However, the Kanga User Manual, published online, says that the 110cc model “should not be ridden by anyone under 16 years of age”. The bike has since been taken for a forensic examination, and police are preparing a report for the coroner.
Family of the boy have requested privacy, according to a police spokesperson.
Quad Bikes And Kids
This tragic accident has brought to light again the serious safety issues that can arise when children are allowed to ride quad bikes. Farmsafe Australia recommends that no child under 16 should use a quad bike, but Sarah McKinnon, the National Farmers’ Federation general manager for workplace relations and legal affairs, said that recommendation wasn’t enforceable in the real world.
“When it comes to children and recreation use on private property, their recommendations are for guidance and for information, they’re not enforceable under law,” Ms McKinnon told ABC.
She said that it was parents who ultimately made the choice to let their children ride quad bikes, and that if they did they should be wearing proper protective gear including suitable helmets.
“If you’re going to ride around the property, do it in areas which are not hilly. Try and make sure you’re not in the long grass.”
“You need visibility because, even at low speeds, if you hit a rock you weren’t aware of or a fallen branch, it can flip the vehicle,” she said.
“The problem with these bikes is they’re not work vehicles, they’re kids bikes and designed for children. They’re 100 kilos and when they roll over which they often do, there are real issues.”
In 2015 Sharon Freund, the deputy state coroner, recommended a safety rating system for quad bikes, including mandatory licenses, helmets and other safety precautions. She too recommended that children under 16 be banned from riding the vehicles.
SafeWork NSW has been working with the farming industry and community representatives to curb the rate of quad bike accidents and deaths.