One of the world’s foremost ATV engineers has resigned from a national safety review body, stating that the body’s assessment of a star rating system was flawed, as no critical evaluation was permitted during the group meetings, and that the outcomes were pre-determined.
The expert went onto say that due to the lack of evidence supporting the proposed system this was nothing more than “experimenting with the public” and the body’s processes were “unethical”.
Two key members of the national Technical Review Group (TRG), set up by the Federal Minister for Small Business to review engineering and technical advice on ATV safety, have resigned from the body in the past 10 days, citing an unwillingness by the group to examine critical evidence.
One of the most significant of the TRG resignations is that of US-based expert Scott Kebschull, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost ATV engineering experts. Kebschull’s company, Dynamic Research Inc (DRI), has over 35 years of experience in the testing and assessment of ATV safety, dynamic handling, static stability and rollover safety.
DRI has a highly respected global reputation for engineering integrity not only in the area of ATV safety by also that of Side by Side vehicles (SxS), passenger cars, light trucks, heavy trucks, motorcycles and bicycles.
Following soon after Kebschull’s decision to quit the TRG, Australia’s peak body representing the interests of motorcycle and ATV vehicle distributors nationally, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, also announced it would resign from the body due to the lack of fair process and the pre-determined outcomes.
The Kebschull decision has delivered a significant blow to the credibility of the TRG, as DRI’s expertise and experience should have been viewed as an essential contribution given the company’s previous seminal research on ATV safety in the 1980s and 1990s, and the testing work DRI performs for bodies like the US Government’s National Highway Transport Safety Administration.
Kebschull has consistently maintained that any introduction of a star safety rating system in Australia should be evidence-based, a position that is fully supported by the FCAI and expert engineers from around the world.
In his resignation letter to TRG chairman, Scott Kebschull said that it was his expectation that the TRG, as outlined in the group’s Terms of Reference, would review the star rating system developed by the University of NSW to determine whether this work was appropriate for consideration.
“However, this has not happened despite our (DRI) raising concerns about it from the beginning of this process. I am surprised and deeply dismayed that this review has not been done,” Kebschull said in his correspondence.
Kebschull said that the TRG processes for the submission of evidence was unfair and indicated that his participation in the TRG was “ . . . simply being used . . . to justify decisions that had already been made and that our input was not being seriously considered”.
In its resignation letter, the FCAI said that it would continue to supply expert advice “but not through the TRG if it continues to exist, or is run in its current format”.