Australian quad bike fatalities are on the rise each year — and the loss of human capital is costing our economy hundreds of millions of dollars, according to new research findings. The report also breaks down the most death-prone age groups; with the elderly topping the list.
Quad picture from Michael Stokes/Shutterstock
Researchers from the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health & Safety studied the quad bike related deaths in Australia between 2001 and 2010, of which there were 124. They then calculated the total economic cost of each fatality, based on ambulance, police and hospital services, funeral expenses, coronial and work safety authority investigations, death compensation payouts and loss of earnings due to premature death.
Quad bike fatalities have a significant economic impact on Australian society that is increasing...The estimated total economic cost associated with quad bike fatalities over this period was $288.1 million, with an average cost for each fatality of $2.3 million.
As the report notes, the above estimation does not factor in indirect costs such as injury to third parties, lost agricultural production or damage to agricultural machinery (not to mention non-fatal injuries that resulted in lifelong disabling conditions). In other words, the total of $288.1 million is highly conservative.
The report also notes that there has been a recent upswing in the number of quad bike deaths documented in Australia since the study was conducted. "When coupled with continued increases in the sale of these vehicles, there is every reason to suspect that costs associated with fatal incidents will also escalate," the report claims.
The report found that citizens living in the country are most at risk. Around two thirds of all quad bike deaths occurred on farms during the recorded period, with more than 50 percent of fatalities caused during rollovers. This eclipsed on-farm tractor deaths by a rate of 2:1.
Interestingly, the highest prevalence of death between 2001 and 2010 was among riders aged 65 years and over (21 per cent). This was closely followed by 15-24 years olds (19.4 per cent) and children under 15 (16.9 per cent). The age bracket that recorded the lowest number of fatalities was 24 to 35 year olds.
In terms of gender, men made up a massive 81.5 per cent of the total quad bike deaths recorded. The report also notes that the women killed typically had annual salaries that were around a third lower than their male counterparts.
The report concludes that developing protective quad bike designs, introducing new government policy and an increase in available training have the potential to be highly cost-effective in the long run.
Have you ever had any close calls or ugly knocks while tearing about on a quad? Share your stories in the comments section below?