Safety: Quad bikes

  • Quad bikes are four-wheeled vehicles that are popular for use with farm work and as recreational vehicles.

    Quad bikes are a major cause of death and serious injury in Australian children and adults. Since 2001, 42 children and 207 adults have been killed in quad bike accidents.

    Additionally, every year Victorian emergency departments treat an average of 85 children suffering from quad bike-related injuries. The majority of these children are aged 5 to 14 years old.  

    These are preventable deaths and injuries, and The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) supports the message that quad bikes and children do not mix.

    Why are quad bikes dangerous?

    Quad bikes are often marketed as stable vehicles that are safe to use on all terrains. However, research shows that the danger in quad bikes is their tendency to tip or roll over when moving at speed, travelling up hills or on uneven ground. The rider can become crushed or pinned under the bike, causing death or injury.

    Because quad bikes are heavy and hard to control, children are especially at risk of being hurt or killed, even when riding smaller-sized quad bikes marketed specifically for children or youth.

    Children under 16 haven’t developed the skills to judge speed and distance, and they can’t make lifesaving decisions. They often collide with objects and other riders, causing injury to themselves and others.

    Main causes of death and injury

    Most children who die from quad bike-related injuries suffer catastrophic head injuries or are suffocated from the weight of the quad bike. Other deaths are a result of crush injuries to the abdominal and chest organs, and spinal or neck injuries.

    Severe injuries commonly seen in quad bike incidents include:

    • Head, chest and abdominal injuries from being crushed under the quad bike
    • Strangulation from riding through a fence or under a clothesline
    • Deep burn from being pinned against or near hot machinery
    • Broken bones, including pelvis and thigh bone fractures.

    Improving safety

    Children under the age of 16 should not use quad bikes, either as a driver or a passenger. The RCH sees a large number of quad bike-related injuries each year and does not recommend any child under 16 be allowed to operate or be a passenger on a quad bike of any size. The RCH supports quad bike bans proposed by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Farmsafe Australia, the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety, and many other national and international bodies.

    If a quad bike is necessary for riders 16 and over, a crush protection device should be fitted. Rebate schemes are in place to assist farmers in purchasing such devices or a safer alternative to quad bikes (e.g. an agricultural ‘side-by-side’ vehicle).

    The following can also improve safety:

    • Ensure riders are appropriately trained. All riders should attend a quad bike training course to improve safety.
    • Always wear a properly fitted helmet and protective clothing when riding.
    • Never carry passengers on a quad bike intended for single person use.
    • Do not carry heavy loads or exceed towing limits as these can make quad bikes more unstable and more prone to roll over.
    • Always ride at a safe speed, remembering high speeds increase chances of death and injury.
    • Do not ride on challenging terrain (uneven, rocky, unfamiliar, steep slopes, muddy or sandy). Establish out-of-bounds areas for quad bike use.
    • Keep the quad bike well maintained and always follow the manufacturers’ recommendations.

    Legal requirements

    To use a quad bike on the road riders must be at least 18 years old and hold a current driver’s licence (a learner’s permit is not sufficient). Quad bikes used on-road must also be registered, and an approved motorcycle helmet must be worn while riding. Visit the VicRoads website for more information.

    Quad bikes used for farm work are subject to Work Health and Safety laws, as farms are workplaces.

    Key points to remember

    • Quad bikes are a serious safety hazard – many quad bike accidents have caused death.
    • Children under the age of 16 should not drive or be a passenger on quad bikes.
    • Rollovers can be deadly. The risk of rollover increases when travelling at high speeds, carrying a load or travelling through unfamiliar or rough terrain.

    More information

    For more information about quad bikes and farm safety, visit:

    Developed by RCH Community Information in consultation with the RCH Trauma Service. First published 2017.

    This information is awaiting routine review. Please always seek the most recent advice from a registered and practising clinician.


This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.