A 10-year-old boy who was tragically crushed to death under an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) on a NSW farm wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, police say.
Witnesses freed him and tried to treat him until paramedics arrived, but he died at the scene.
The ATV involved in the tragic accident was a Yamaha YXZ1000R, police told Yahoo News Australia. Rather than a standard quad bike, it is a more powerful ATV with a canopy.
Police said inquiries as to why the boy wasn’t wearing a seatbelt will be included in an investigation and report for the coroner.
Calls for better safety regulations
The tragic death comes as regulators review the laws governing similar vehicles.
The incident, which took place on a property at Meroo Meadow, 15km north of Nowra, adds fuel to the debate about the need for stricter safety measures for vehicles such as quad bikes, which are used on farms around the country.
Some experts believe the latest death – and others like it – could be avoided with the introduction of safeguards that the country’s consumer watchdog is currently considering.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) is mulling over whether to enforce major changes that would see crush protection devices become mandatory for manufacturers of quad bikes in Australia.
Otherwise known as rollover protection devices, they are normally mounted on the back of bikes, and are designed to stop the vehicle rolling on top of the driver in an accident.
“Our focus has largely been on quad bikes rather than ATVs,” ACCC Commissioner Mick Keogh – who is leading the review – told Yahoo News Australia. “(But) we’re starting to see some incidents relating to ATVs.”
The industry, however, has voiced opposition to the changes. Quad bike makers Yamaha and Honda have hit out at the recommendations, threatening to abandon the Australian market if they’re introduced.
Yamaha marketing manager Sean Goldhawk said the protection devices aren’t the ultimate panacea and, in some cases, actually cause injury in the event of a crash.
"They can pin you underneath when they rollover, they promote the ATV rolling on their side and most injuries occur when the vehicle is on its side," he told ABC Rural on Monday, before the latest death.
However Commissioner Keogh said the ACCC was “not aware of any” examples of that.
“We know that about 10,000 quad bikes in Australia have rollover protection fitted and we’re not aware of any incidents with those,” he added.
250 deaths in less than two decades
The proposed changes also include better warning labels and a mandatory safety star rating system for quad bikes sold in Australia.
KidsSafe NSW threw its support behind the proposed changes in its submission to the ACCC, saying they were “likely to prevent most deaths and injuries by a significant degree”.
The National Farmers Federation is also among those that support the introduction of minimum stability standards and protection devices, believing they would minimise the risk of rollovers and significantly reduce the risk of death.
The ACCC was unable to comment on specifics of the latest death but points to shocking statistics that see approximately six people per day attend a hospital emergency department due to a quad bike accident.
Since the early 2000s, more than 250 people have died in Australia in quad bike related accidents, about half of which have resulted from drivers being crushed underneath.
Public consultation on the proposed changes ended this week and the ACCC’s final recommendations will be with the appropriate minister within the month, Commissioner Keogh said.
Yamaha has been approached for comment by Yahoo News Australia
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