RURAL safety, both on and off farm is a matter close to our hearts at the Country Women's Association of NSW. As early as 1960 we were calling for improvements to operator protection on tractors, in light of an increase in tractor fatalities.
Car safety belts, what we now call seat-belts, were a focus in 1962 when we urged car manufacturers to incorporate as standard equipment safety belts to all vehicles.
In 1965 we lobbied for compulsory installation of laminated glass in all cars - to protect passengers from projectiles during normal driving conditions as well as to optimise safety during accidents. The use of glass in motor vehicles, designed to protect drivers from wind, was proving dangerous in accidents.
In the mid-1980s we called for mandatory bicycle helmets. We've called for manufacturers to be more responsible for agricultural machinery safety, as well as subsidies for rural bus operators to install seat belts on all school buses in the early years of this century.
More recently we've called for improvements to and awareness of road safety, including the correct use of high beam headlights, fog lights and driving lights.
This year, the CWA of NSW joins the chorus of voices calling for the implementation of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommendations when it comes to quad bike safety.
Quad bike accidents are a leading cause of avoidable death and injury in rural Australia and are the largest cause of death and injury on Australian farms. Disappointingly there is still no minimum safety standard. The ACCC has published its report into making quad bikes safer.
There are a series of recommendations which allow a 12-month transition period so manufacturers have time to comply with modern safety requirements and standards. One recommendation that we take particular focus on, is that within 24 months all new "general use" quad bikes are to be fitted with operator protection devices (OPDs) - most commonly known as "rollover bars".
We understand from numerous independent investigations, research, inquiries and reports that the consensus is that these proposed changes would be effective in reducing the number of deaths.
There is uncertainty, however, as to whether the government will accept and implement this recommendation on OPDs in particular.
We at the CWA of NSW are unashamedly safety first. From our perspective, there need be no further discussion on the matter of rollover bars - apart from to discuss how quickly rollover bars can become a standard and accessible feature on quad bikes.
Not only are we calling on these manufacturers to embrace safety, we are calling on the Morrison-McCormack government to show leadership and ensure that the sensible implementation of increased safety measures on quad bikes is done haste.
- CWA NSW president Stephanie Stanhope
- This story first appeared on The Land
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