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FCAI comments on latest American study results for operator protection devices on ATVs

On 28th August, the American Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released the results of a study which evaluated the effectiveness of Operator Protection Devices (OPDs) on All-Terrain Vehicles.

Significantly, the CPSC has not made any recommendations for or against the fitment of OPDs, indicating the study is inconclusive. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) agrees with this assessment.

The CPSC report states that “neither the Quad Bar nor Lifeguard OPDs reduced the relative number of interactions between the ATV and ATD (crash test dummy) at final rest…” Another result from the report states “…the OPDs did not reduce the occurrence of the ATV ending up on top of the dummy’s pelvis, abdomen, thorax or head.”

Here in Australia, the ACCC claimed the study shows support for OPDs and has strongly promoted the study in the media. Unfortunately, it appears the ACCC has cherry picked random points from the study to support their position of making OPDs mandatory, at the same time ignoring any facts that do not support their argument.

The CPSC study does not support one of the major claims of the ACCC’s Quad Bike Final Recommendations (from page 71) which states “Quad bikes with OPDs will improve the safety of consumers and reduce fatalities where an operator would have otherwise been pinned underneath the quad bike with a force sufficient to cause asphyxia or serious chest injuries.”

Previous studies commissioned by the FCAI and undertaken by Dynamic Research Inc. (DRI), an independent USA firm, have clearly shown there is no net safety benefit in fitting an OPD to an ATV.

There are documented cases in Australia where the fitment of OPDs has shown to cause serious injury outcomes for the rider. Photographs taken from the CPSC’s own report are a grim illustration of just what CAN happen when an OPD is fitted.

In this scenario, the OPD has changed the roll-over dynamics to increase the vehicle’s height and caused it to fall with greater force, ultimately crushing and coming to rest on top of the rider.

In light of the original DRI research findings, the leading ATV manufacturers have refused to fit after-market OPDs to their vehicles and are now planning to exit the Australian market. This exodus will result in a lack of quality, reliable ATVs for rural and agricultural use, and will leave a gaping hole in the ‘toolbox’ of thousands of Australian farmers.

Rural industry and farming associations, as well as individual farmers themselves, are canvassing government to overturn the mandatory OPD fitment order.