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Cloud tracking device could lower quad-bike related deaths

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons wants both the Australian and New Zealand Governments to ban the use of quad bikes by children following an accident in Australia this month.

A six-year-old girl in New South Wales died after a quad bike ridden by three children crashed into trees. She died at the scene, while another child was flown to hospital with serious injuries.

Closer to home, 15-year-old Jossie Wetini died in Taharoa in October when the quad bike she was on crashed. A local resident had found Wetini and the other girl she was riding with, who survived the incident. A helicopter flew the survivor to the hospital.

Quad bikes are commonly used on rural properties in remote locations, which makes accidents incredibly serious when they do occur.

Mobile phone reception can be questionable, and when emergency services or help does arrive it can often be too late.

Data collated by tracking systems company Blackhawk from more than 30,000 quad bikes in Canada and New Zealand shows that a rider might experience a serious accident or the bike rolling over every 3400 days.

While this may seem like a low figure, Blackhawk chairman Keith Oliver says it’s actually quite high when looking at the number of quad bikes here and across the ditch.

“With an estimated 300,000 quad bikes across Australia and New Zealand, the data indicates there is likely to be 90 potentially serious incidents a day across both countries, most going unreported, but some will result in serious injury or death,” he says.

Last year, quad bike related deaths hit a record high in New Zealand.

Former director of Lincoln University’s Telford campus, Charley Lamb, told Radio New Zealand the deaths were occurring as a result of the riders being crushed, which research showed roll bars would prevent.

“Very few bikes have roll over protection, which of course they should do. Whether people want to debate that and argue that, they can. But they used to do the same about safety frames on tractors and they did the same about seatbelts in cars.”

“There’s no doubt that roll over protection on quads will stop crush injuries and stop deaths. It won’t stop injuries.”

He said the fact that there was not requirement for roll bars on quads, a reduction in the agricultural training budget and no one moving to classify agriculture as a high-risk industry had created a “perfect storm”.

Oliver says Blackhawk’s Link quad tech is some of the first of its kind in the world, and can be used to track and educate rider behaviour.

Its device, which is installed in vehicles, is designed to ensure rider safety for the farming, agricultural, marine and forestry industries.

The technology connects the bike to a cloud system so riders can have an immediate emergency contact if something goes wrong.

It also has the ability to detect when an accident has occurred and send out a crash alert, as well as send and receive text messages in areas without reception.

Currently, Landcorp, the largest farming company in New Zealand and Auckland Council Regional Parks are using the technology to monitor incidents and provide a means of communication in areas with little to no mobile phone coverage.

 “The technology used in the 30,000-day monitoring study also senses quad accidents and roll-overs in real time, sending emergency alerts via satellite to family members and neighbours,” Oliver says.

“Quad accidents detected in real-time on ski-fields in Canada and remote farms in New Zealand resulted in emergency alerts going to family members and co-workers, they responded within minutes to roll-overs, saving lives within the golden hour.”

Elly is Idealog's editor and resident dog enthusiast. She enjoys travelling, tea, good books, and writing about exciting ideas and cool entrepreneurs.

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