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New law which makes quad bikers wear helmets seems like an unnecessary piece of legislation

 

Since June 30, 2017, riders of quad bikes in Northern Ireland have been legally required to wear a helmet on public roads.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland state that, between 2006 and 2016, five people died and 71 were injured while riding a quad bike on the public road.

That equates to one death every two years and slightly over seven injuries per year for 10 years. Yet it is not explained whether any of those deaths, or injuries, would have been avoided had the riders been wearing helmets. Do these figures justify such legislation?

In the latest PSNI statistics, I can find no specific reference to quad bike RTCs on the public road. This suggests they are not at a level where they are considered a problem. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that quad bike accidents are an increasing concern for those who use them to work the land - farmers, shepherds and game keepers. The only figures I could easily find came from Shooting UK and The Farmers Weekly and related to quad bike accidents on private land, where a helmet is still not required.

These appear to haven risen to 4,200 in 2002 from 1,200 in 1998. The insurance company NFU Mutual dealt with 198 quad bike accident claims in 2004. (Of course, the number of quad bikes in use has also soared.) Between 2007 and 2016, the PSNI report 441 cyclists seriously injured and 18 killed, yet there has been no legislation to compel cyclists to wear particular protective equipment.

In 2016, there was only one less cyclist fatality (three) than motorcyclists (four) and only 27 fewer injuries among cyclists. Taking cycling for illustration, this new law for quad riders seems potentially unnecessary. And if accidents on private land are a bigger problem for quad bike users, will this law have any real benefit?

Martyn Boyd

Motorcycle Action Group UK

Belfast Telegraph

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