Skip to content

Quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles

Quad bikes (also known as All Terrain Vehicles – ATVs) have become a highly utilised item of machinery in recent years, due to their adaptability, low running cost and easy operation.

The Statewide Plan for Improving Quad Bike Safety in Queensland 2016 – 2019 (PDF, 3.92 MB) (the plan) is a key initiative to raise awareness of the risks associated with quad bike use and enhance operator skill and safety.

Quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles are widely used by farmers, local governments, search and rescue teams, recreation clubs and for adventure tourism.

According to the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety (Queensland University of Technology), there are approximately 380,000 quad bikes in operation in Australia.

While they're a useful piece of equipment, quad bikes can be deadly for children, teenagers and adults when used incorrectly.

Between 2000 to 2015, 69 people have been killed in quad bike incidents in Queensland – approximately 30 per cent of quad bike-related fatalities in Australia.

According to Safe Work Australia (QuadWatch), approximately 20 per cent of Australia's fatalities were children under the age of 16.

The safe operation of quad bikes is required in all situations. Owners of quad bikes should provide users with appropriate information and training, ensuring that a quad bike is the right tool for the task.

A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees and visitors. This includes ensuring plant, such as quad bikes, are safe to use for the situation and skill of the rider.

Proper instruction and training must be provided and understood by the rider to ensure workers and visitors remain healthy and safe at the workplace.

A worker at work must also take reasonable care for the health and safety of other people at the workplace who may be affected.

Other information

In 2012, the Australian Government launched the 'Quad Watch' initiative, which provides safety information, relevant data and research and contact details of industry associations, state and territory work health and safety regulators, manufacturers and community groups involved in quad bike safety activities.

Quad bikes are designed for particular purposes and within particular operating conditions. Using them outside these parameters can significantly increase the risk of severe injury or death.

Quad bikes can be unstable due to their light weight and high centre of gravity, increasing the risk of a rollover on rough terrain, especially when turning or driving across slopes.

Overloading, inappropriate fitment of attachments or towing can significantly change the handling, stability and braking conditions of a quad bike and may contribute to its instability and potential for roll over.

Operators and employers should identify the potential hazards and assess the risks of operating a quad bike.

Risk assessments should be undertaken prior to operating a quad bike to ensure any risk caused by the operator or environmental conditions are reduced as much as possible.

Operators should refer to the Rural Plant Code of Practice 2004 (PDF, 0.63 MB) and WorkSafe Victoria's, Quad bikes on farms: A handbook for workplaces which provides handy tips on undertaking risk assessments.

Quad bike

The quad bike's fitness for purpose should be assessed prior to its use.

Consider whether:

  • there's another item of farm machinery that could provide a safer operation, i.e. a side-by-side vehicle, small tractor or utility
  • fitting equipment (such as crush protection devices) that will minimise the risk of injury from possible rollover
  • the quad bike is maintained to manufacturer's specifications, including equipment such as brakes are working and tyres are inflated to the correct pressure
  • all guards are in place, particularly foot plates
  • all controls are adjusted so they can be operated comfortably and safely when seated.

Rider behaviours

Operators need significant experience in various terrain or conditions depending on the power and type of quad bike being used.

Operators should:

  • be trained or have sufficient experience before operating a quad bike, particularly when riding on steep slopes, at speed or with attachments
  • complete a quad bike training course
  • never allow passengers on the quad bike unless it has been specifically designed to carry two people
  • never let children under 16 ride adult-sized quad bikes
  • wear personal protective equipment, such as an approved standard helmets, gloves and eye protection
  • ensure equipment or liquids being carried or towed are secured and do not suddenly change the weight, balance, steering or braking dynamics by distributing additional weight to the side, front or back.
  • have sufficient strength, weight and agility to operate safely and to react quickly to changing terrain or conditions. Operators should be physically capable to control the quad bike and to correctly move their body weight to keep the wheels on the ground at all times
  • be aware of heat stress, fatigue or other limiting conditions which may affect concentration while operating a quad bike.


Operators should be aware of:

  • being struck by an object (e.g. overhanging branch)
  • the possibility of rollover from striking an object hidden by long grass such as logs and rocks, location of drains and other hazards
  • washouts after rain or crossing steep terrain
  • a rider's leg being caught in rear tyre, chain or foot rest
  • attachments or loads being too heavy, unequally distributed or not secure
  • the risks posed by poor maintenance of brakes, suspension and tyres.

More information