Roll bars should be mandatory on quad bikes, says coroner

Inquest hears Anthony O’Malley found dead by his wife underneath quad on family farm

Sgt Gabriel McLoughlin, a Garda PSV Inspector, replying to the Coroner for Mayo, Patrick O’Connor, said there is no requirement at the moment for roll bars to be fitted on quad units, but agreed there should be. File photograph: iStockPhoto

Sgt Gabriel McLoughlin, a Garda PSV Inspector, replying to the Coroner for Mayo, Patrick O’Connor, said there is no requirement at the moment for roll bars to be fitted on quad units, but agreed there should be. File photograph: iStockPhoto

 

A coroner has called for roll bars to be made mandatory on quad bikes which, he says, are being increasingly used not just on farms but also in industry and as “fun vehicles” in holiday resorts.

Patrick O’Connor, Coroner for Mayo, highlighted the dangers posed by the “all-terrain” 4x4 vehicles at an inquest on Monday into the death of Michael Anthony (Tony) O’Malley.

Mr O’Malley (67), a former employee of Mayo County Council, was found dead by his wife Catherine underneath his quad on the family farm at Derrew, Ballyheane, Castlebar, on September 21st last.

The quad was turned on its side at the bottom of a small hill and the victim was trapped underneath. Alongside the quad – completely detached – was a spraying machine for a quad which had a 25 gallon/95 litre capacity.

The cause of death was given at the inquest by Dr Fadel Bennani, consultant pathologist at Mayo University Hospital, as asphyxia due to entrapment by an overturned quad.

No requirement

Sgt Gabriel McLoughlin, a Garda PSV Inspector, replying to the coroner, said there is no requirement at the moment for roll bars to be fitted on quad units, but agreed there should be.

Roll bars would prevent the vehicle toppling over and landing on the driver, thereby crushing them. Similar mandatory changes to tractors (before driver cabins became standard) helped to reduce deaths caused by tractors falling on drivers.

Mr O’Connor said it is “a little alarming” there are no regulations relating to the use of quads, which are becoming increasingly common not just on farms but also in industry and in holiday resorts.

“I have seen 14- and 15-year-olds get up on these vehicles,” the coroner stated.

“It does seem extraordinary that the use of quads is not more strictly regulated.”

Returning a verdict of accidental death, the inquest jury added a rider that research be carried out into the safety of all quad units.

‘Panic button’

The coroner, echoing the jury’s recommendation, also said the suggestion of a “panic button” on quads, to raise the alarm in case of emergency, was also worthwhile.

Expressing sympathy with the victim’s widow and family, Mr O’Connor said he hoped lessons would be learned and that some good would come from their tragic loss.

Sgt David Tiernan, on behalf of An Garda Síochána, and Frank Kelly, foreman of the inquest jury, joined in the expressions of sympathy.