Working with Quad’s and ATVs – know the dangers

OvER the year’s Quad bikes and All-Terrain vehicles (ATv) have become essential on most farms. However, like any piece of machinery, it’s not the quad bike that is dangerous, it’s the way it’s handled.

So, before you jump on and start up your ATv, take the time to get to know the vehicle, know your limits and know the dangers.

ATvs such as quad bikes and side-by-side utility vehicles are designed to cope with a wide variety of off-road conditions, but if used carelessly can very rapidly become unstable.

The injuries from these vehicles can often be fatal, because they can achieve high speeds and when an ATv overturns, there

is no roll bar to protect the driver’s head or neck (as is the case with a tractor or utility vehicle). In fact, many quad bike fatalities in the UK have been caused by head injuries.

Helmets would have prevented most, if not all, of these deaths. So please make sure you always wear a suitable helmet when riding a quad bike.

There is no one cause of all ATv accidents. However, many of these incidents involve the negligence or recklessness of the driver or another person nearby.

Causes of ATv accidents include drunk driving, to speeding recklessly, to unsuitable terrain, to vehicle rollover; the list goes on and on. These accidents are also caused by less obvious

reasons, such as poor maintenance or exceeding the carrying capacity on the ATv.

It is worth remembering that ATvs, in light agricultural use, are designed to hold the operator, and the operator only. Whilst the long seat on a quad bike allows you to shift your body weight backwards and forwards for different slope conditions, – it is not for carrying passengers!

There is no doubt that ATvs are a real aid on the farm, but if you have an ATv, you are being negligent if you don’t at least familiarise yourself with safe driving practices and prevent children (those under 16 years of age) from driving the ATv in any circumstances.

Here’s what you can do to reduce the risk:

• carry out safety checks and maintenance in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, eg regularly check tyre pressures, brakes and throttle;

• secure loads on racks and make sure they are not overloaded and evenly balanced; • always read and follow the owner’s manual;

• stick to planned routes, where possible, and walk new routes if necessary to check for hidden obstructions, hollows or other hazards;

• take extra care with trailed or mounted equipment and understand how they affect stability;

• make sure all riders receive adequate training;

• follow the SAFE STOP procedure if you need to check equipment, carry out maintenance work or clear blockages:

* Fully apply the handbrake
* Put all controls in neutral
* Stop the engine
* Remove the key from the ignition

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