An international expert in off-road vehicle dynamics and safety has been invited by Australia’s peak motor industry body to provide key evidence to the upcoming Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into quad bike safety.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), which represents the ATV industry, has welcomed the ACCC inquiry and is looking forward to the evidence-based materials and research which Californian-based engineer Scott Kebschull will provide to the Technical Reference Group.
This Group has been asked to provide technical information to better inform the Quad Bike Safety Taskforce announced by Federal Minister Michael McCormack and Senator Michaelia Cash on October 31.
Mr Kebschull is a Technical Director at the independent engineering company Dynamic Research Incorporated (DRI) based in California, which has been an international leader in the field of ATV handling and safety characteristics for more than a decade. He and his predecessor at DRI have provided expert evidence and testimony in three separate Coronial investigations into quad bike deaths in Australia.
The FCAI supports safety star rating systems provided that the promoted vehicle characteristics are evidence-based to ensure the best possible safety outcomes.
In the interests of pushing ahead with an evidence-based star rating system, Mr Kebschull will outline guidelines and methodology for developing an off-road vehicle safety ratings system.
“From an engineering perspective, DRI has a wealth of research experience and data that can help inform the Technical Reference Group. We have been working on ATV safety issues for over 30 years, and we have provided advice for many such inquiries in the past,” Mr Kebschull said.
“I’m looking forward to this opportunity. Safety ratings are an important consideration for any consumer so it’s imperative that the guidelines put in place now are well-considered and evidence-based.”
His technical paper will be published in an international safety journal and presented to the Technical Reference Group during their deliberations into safety star rating systems. In order to ensure that any proposed vehicle characteristics are capable of improving safety outcomes, the FCAI proposes that all star rating measures are based on real world safety outcomes.
In his previous visits to Australia, Mr Kebschull’s expert evidence and testimony has been highly valued at three Coronial inquests and the Tasmanian Deputy Coroner singled out his evidence in commenting: “. . . I was greatly assisted by the provision to the Court of the results of a number of studies carried out by DRI.”
All the Coronial investigations separately and independently convened in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania over the past 18 months have recommended the introduction of known safety practices such as mandatory helmets and training, the banning of kids riding adult-sized ATVs, and preventing any passengers riding on single seat ATVs.
Separately, the FCAI has expressed its disappointment that there has been no follow-up work by the state authorities to pursue those Coronial outcomes. From Coronial and industry data, a 70 per cent improvement in safety outcomes could be achieved immediately if these simple measures were implemented as requested by the independent Coroners.
The FCAI also supports the Coronial finding which seeks to consider the Australian adoption of the US ATV standard (ANSI/SVIA) which is mandated in the USA and is accepted in over 30 countries around the world.