Farmer: Light helmet needed for quad bikes

CLIFTON farmer Dave Robertson is pushing for a lightweight helmet to be designed for quad bike riders.

Quad bike accidents are fast becoming the leading cause of death on Queensland farms with investigations now being conducted into fatalities to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences in the future.

Mr Robertson designed and manufactured the world's first crash protection device for motorbikes, which he sells all over Australia and the world.

A neighbour's accident was the catalyst for Mr Robertson's creation and is why he remains passionate about quad bike safety on properties.

"I don't think it's about how the bike is being ridden, most farmers are distracted by the work they are doing," he said.

"If a farmer is concentrating on his stock instead of riding the motorbike, accidents can happen.

"Quad bikes are extremely unstable and something as simple as a roll bar can save lives."

Mr Robertson said it wouldn't be practical to require riders to wear a motorbike helmet.

"A motorbike helmet is just too heavy and farmers wouldn't want to wear it," he said.

"Something more lightweight, like an equestrian helmet would be much better.

"Helmets are extremely important and the right kind would be worn and save more lives."

Coroner John Lock will investigate seven recent quad bike-related deaths - on properties from the Southern Downs to Townsville.

He said during a pre-inquest hearing in Brisbane, that he knew some of the possible recommendations were controversial, but it was time they were explored.

Feedlot supervisor Geoffrey Moore, 51, died after driving a faulty quad bike that was awaiting repair, through a barbed wire fence near Dalby, on March 6 or 7, 2012.

The quad bike deaths of a boy, 11, near Toowoomba in 2012 and a woman, 28, in 2013 would be among the others investigated.

An 11-year-old boy died after rolling an adult-sized quad bike on his family's property near Toowoomba and becoming trapped on September 15, 2012.

Zoe McInnes, 28, fell off her quad bike while driving home in the early hours from a party on a property near Kingaroy on June 19, 2013.

She was not wearing a helmet and died from head injuries.

Mr Lock will also look into the deaths of Gregory Hoare, 42, at a cattle station near Bowen, Reginald Bauchamp, 86, in a cattleyard near Longreach in 2013 and a 40-year-old man carrying a nine-year-old pillion passenger near Townsville in January this year.

Some names have been suppressed under a court order.

Counsel assisting the coroner Peter De Waard said there had been 170 quad bike-related deaths since 2001 and Queensland was leading the country.

"So far this year, five of the six reported quad bike-related deaths in Australia were also in Queensland," he said.

He said the families involved thus far were hopeful "that some good can come out of their loss".

Mr Lock said he would not only look at the circumstances of the seven, or eight, recent deaths but from industry groups and others with an interest, such as universities completing studies.

He said he appreciated some of the possible solutions, to reduce quad bike fatalities, could be controversial but he wanted to bring some of them "to a head".

"They seem to have been aired continuously for a good decade now (according to) our research," he said.

"Whether or not I'm successful in making recommendations which are able to be implemented or not is one of reasons why I'm looking at a fairly wide-ranging inquiry.

"I appreciate if it was going to be easy it would have been done already."

The coroner will hear the circumstances surrounding each death in August.

Safety and industry experts will give evidence in October.

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