Quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles
Quad bikes and side-by-side vehicles are popular due to their adaptability, ease of operation and low running costs and are often used by farmers, producers, local and state governments, search and rescue teams, and adventure tourism.
Quad bikes are responsible for more deaths in Queensland’s agriculture industry than anything else. More than 50 Queenslanders have been killed using quad bikes since 2011.
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.
Quadwatch provides safety information, 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 is 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.
Prior to purchase
Operators should clearly understand the purpose for the quad bike prior to purchase, such as:
- intended use of quad bike (e.g. tasks to be undertaken, size of property, competency of the operator)
- whether other equipment can be used instead of a quad bike (i.e. side-by-side vehicle, small tractor or ute)
- likely terrain and ground conditions
- power and speed
- gear ratio
- centre of gravity
- drive mechanism
- after-market attachments and accessories to be used
- seat carrying capacity
- reverse gear.
When buying a new or imported second-hand quad bike, you must ensure that it complies with the Consumer Good (Quad Bikes) Safety Standard 2019, including being fitted with a rider crush protection device.
Prior to use
The quad bike's fitness for purpose should be assessed prior to its use. Check:
- whether there's another item of farm machinery that could provide a safer operation (i.e. a side-by-side vehicle, small tractor or ute)
- the quad bike is maintained to manufacturer's specifications, including checking that 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.
New or imported second-hand quad bikes must be fitted with a rider crush protection device. Consider fitting a rider crush protection device to your existing quad bike.
Fitting and using accessories
You must follow the manufacturer's instructions when fitting and using quad bike accessories, including:
- using only the mounting point or draw bar provided by the manufacturer. Incorrect attachment can increase instability and cause rollovers
- not altering the height of the mounting point or increase the towing capacity which could affect braking, steering or suspension and increase the risk of rollover
- ensuring all guards are in place and the bike can be easily operated from the seated position
- applying the correct load ratings on the front and rear carrier racks to avoid decreasing stability.
- be properly trained and competent before operating a quad bike, particularly when riding on steep slopes, at speed or with attachments. Find accredited quad bike training
- wear a properly fitting helmet (compliant with AS 1698:1988 and AS/NZ 1698:2006) and eye protection, gloves, study footwear and clothing that covers arms and legs
- 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
- take extra care when carrying liquid loads as the weight will shift when turning corners or crossing slopes, adding to instability. Baffle balls should be used when carrying a part load to eliminate stability issues
- use active riding techniques and 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
- carefully descend slopes by keeping the quad bike in low gear and allowing the motor compression to act as a brake
- operate the quad bike at a safe speed
- read and comply with manufacturer's advice in the owner's manual
- regularly inspect and maintain the quad bike, including checking tyre pressure and brakes
- be aware of heat stress, fatigue or other limiting conditions which may affect concentration while operating a quad bike
- make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you’ll be back
- remove the keys when the bike is not in use.
Operators should not:
- allow passengers on the quad bike unless it has been specifically designed to carry two people
- allow children under 16 to ride adult-sized quad bikes
- overload the quad bike beyond manufacturer's specifications
- operate on unfamiliar terrain, rough terrain or steep slopes, especially when carrying cargo or towing
- exceed towing limits
- operate a quad bike while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- operate a quad bike beyond their capabilities.
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
- rough or uneven ground, especially after rain or flooding
- 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.
- Rural plant code of practice 2004 (PDF, 0.63 MB)
- Quad bikes are Queensland farming’s biggest killer
- 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.
This plan was produced prior to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Consumer Goods (Quad Bikes) Safety Standard 2019, which requires that from 11 October 2021 new and second hand imported quad bikes have an operator protection device (OPD) fitted or integrated into their design.