Wednesday 18 September 2019

Don't gift a child a quad or scrambler, it could mark your family for ever

'Don't gift your child a quad or scrambler'
'Don't gift your child a quad or scrambler'

RSA EXPERT

There have been a number of high-profile collisions involving quad bikes and scramblers in the media recently.

It has sparked a timely debate on the legal framework around the use of these vehicles, and has certainly shown the dangers of allowing minors to use them.

During the Celtic Tiger era, we ran a campaign with gardai highlighting the risks of giving quad bikes, scramblers and mini-motorbikes to children as gifts.

Fast-forward nine years and we are launching a new campaign on foot of high-profile cases that hit the headlines.

The economy has picked up. The unemployment rate is now 5.4pc, down from a high of 15.8pc in December 2010. Quads and scramblers appear to be affordable again for some and they are back on the Christmas wish-list.

Right now, parents are weighing up gift ideas for their children. We all want our kids to have a special Christmas, to have memories they will cherish for years to come.

The advice of the RSA, the gardai and medics, though, is to please give a gift that won't mark your family for ever. Don't gift your child a quad or scrambler.

Quads and scramblers can cause life-changing injuries and deaths. They are not toys. They are machines that, in the hands of inexperienced users, can be deadly.

And that is not always due to excessive speed. The unstable nature of these vehicles, often on uneven ground, can cause incidents at low speeds.

You only have to look at the number of injuries and fatalities involving quads and scramblers to see the danger they pose.

From 2014 to 2017, there were 39 people killed or injured in collisions involving a quad bike or scrambler on a public road. A total of 16, or 41pc, of these people were 18 or younger.

Shockingly, of the four people killed on a quad bike or scrambler in this period, three were 18 years of age or under. More than a third of those who suffered injuries were 18 or younger.

These statistics cover collisions that occurred on public roads and don't account for many that may have occurred off-road or on private land.

Keith Synnott, a consultant at the National Spinal Injuries Unit in the Mater Hospital, recently told me that riders risked spinal injury in a collision on a quad bike or scrambler.

Impacts often occur on areas of uneven ground or as a result of unstable vehicles (especially in the hands of children) leading to people falling and landing awkwardly, or the vehicle landing on the rider.

According to Mr Synnott, the results can cause spinal injuries with paralysis.

This can mean being unable to walk or, perhaps, use your hands to feed yourself, and loss of bowel or bladder control, and sometimes even the inability to breathe without the aid of a machine.

Every Christmas, these kinds of vehicles are given as presents, so it's important to know the risks.

Quad bikes and scramblers are not toys. They are intended to be driven by people who inform themselves of the risk they pose and who are aware of the need for care, particularly when driving on uneven ground.

Scramblers are also a big problem in the hands of inexperienced and mostly unsupervised children who ride them around housing estates, parks and on public roads, often with no protective clothing whatsoever.

If used on a public road, these vehicles are subject to the same rules as other mechanically propelled vehicles. They need to be taxed and in a road-worthy condition. The driver of the vehicle needs to hold the appropriate driving licence and be insured to drive the vehicle.

It is also an offence for these vehicles to be used in a public place by minors.

Quads and scramblers are heavy, dangerous pieces of machinery that cause life-changing injuries and deaths every year.

If you're planning to gift a quad bike or scrambler this Christmas, please reconsider.

If it's the thought that counts, please think again.

Indo Motoring

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