This website uses non-intrusive cookies to improve your user experience. You can visit our cookie privacy page for more information.

The shocking truth about ATVs - Quad bike safety

On average, two people die and more than 1000 are injured in quad bike/all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents. In Scotland, HSE has been taking targeted action to reduce those figures, as inspector Gillian McLean from the Edinburgh office explains.

Three agricultural workers died in ATV accidents in Scotland in the four years up to 2008/09. Nobody who’s died from head injuries after falling off a quad bike was wearing a helmet. Simple safety precautions save lives, yet people are still dying. Why?

We decided to carry out checks at Scottish farms to make sure quad bikes are being used and maintained correctly. Our aim – to raise awareness of the risks of using ATVs and prevent avoidable injuries and deaths.

More than half of all quad bike riders have been thrown from their vehicle at some point, so it’s vital that farmers ensure their workers wear helmets, are properly trained and their bikes are well maintained.

So what did we find? The results are worrying. Almost two-thirds of the 58 farms visited weren’t using ATVs safely. Inspectors issued 36 improvement notices − 25 for using ATVs without appropriate training, 10 for a lack of suitable head protection, and one for poor maintenance.

Transport-related incidents are the second biggest cause of fatalities in agriculture in Scotland. Wearing a helmet, or checking your vehicle’s tyre pressure, brakes and throttle before each ATV ride costs just minutes; failure to do so could cost lives.

These results are disappointing and show that many farmers still aren’t taking the risks seriously. But as a result of our inspections and the actions we’ve taken, at least they now have the opportunity to put things right.

Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP and HSE inspector, Gillian McLean at the Royal Highland and Agricultural Show 2010

Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP and HSE inspector, Gillian McLean at the Royal Highland and Agricultural Show 2010

HSE announced the results of its inspection initiative at the Royal Highland Show last month. Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore MP visited HSE’s stand and commented: ‘These results should act as a sharp shock for the agricultural industry.

‘Agriculture remains one of the most dangerous ways to make a living in Britain, and farmers must do more to protect themselves and their workers.

‘Many incidents involving ATVs, like so many other farming-related incidents that can result in death or injury, are easily preventable if simple measures are taken.’

Updated 2010-12-07