The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), together with Ambulance Victoria, The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, KidSafe and the Australian Medical Association, is calling for legislation to restrict the use of quad bikes for children under the age of 16.
Quad bike injuries in children have doubled in the past decade, and tragically 11 children under the age of 15 have died on quad bikes nationwide since 2008.
RCH Trauma Service Manager, Helen Jowett, said the statistics were horrifying.
“In the past ten years, the RCH has seen serious trauma cases from children’s quad bike accidents grow by about 25 per cent each year,” Helen said.
“The injuries to these children are severe: intracranial head and brain; skull and face fractures; chest, abdomen and spinal injuries,” she said.
Just three weeks ago, three-year-old William Davidson was crushed by a quad bike on his family’s farm after the bike continued to move when switched off. William was placed in an induced coma and rushed to the RCH were he spent eight days in intensive care.
Associate Professor Trevor Duke, RCH Intensive Care Unit Deputy Director, says William’s story is no different to those of other children critically injured by quad bikes.
“The circumstances may vary, from one child moving cows, some bikes rolling downhill, some crashing into gates or poles or other motorbikes. Most occur off-road or on private properties. What doesn’t vary is the distress the accidents cause the child, their family, and clinicians who care for them,” A/Professor Duke said.
RCH staff from intensive care, orthopaedics, trauma, and the Safety Centre are all seeking legislation to ban the use of quad bikes by children as well as regulation insisting safety gear, such as helmets, be worn at all times.
“For children on private properties there’s no law. Obviously we would like to see everybody wearing a helmet at all times, but for children under 16 there is no law for them to be on or off quad bikes or even wearing a helmet,” Helen Jowett said.
Helen said change would also need to occur at a community level.
“The problem in the community is that people think quad bikes are safe.
“Currently we see children as young as 18 months up to 16 years coming in injured from quad bikes and it is something that we would like to see changed.
“Our concern is the lack of community awareness. Quad bikes are unstable if not ridden appropriately by the instructions and if not adhered to when carrying people on them, and we don’t believe children have the ability to control such heavy vehicles,” she said.