Man on Quad Bike with helmet herding sheep

Three questions to ask before investing in a quad bike

Cornish Mutual Claims Technician Pat Phillips advises farmers on what to consider before investing in a quad bike.

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or quad bikes are extremely useful on farms. They’re versatile, handle well off road, can tow trailers and provide farmers with a quick and easy way to get around their land. Sadly, accidents and thefts involving ATVs are common. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), on average two people die and more than 1,000 are injured each year in quad bike accidents. There are also estimated to be more than 1,000 serious injuries a year. Many of these are preventable with proper forethought, planning and research. Here are some considerations for farmers when buying a quad bike.


Where will your quad bike be used? 

Quad bikes are primarily designed for off-road use and most do not meet the necessary safety standards to go on the roads. To be driven on the road, a quad bike must be registered with the DVLA, carry front and rear number plates and, if is more than three years old, must have an MOT. You also need a full driving licence to drive a quad bike on the roads - a motorcycle licence is not sufficient.

If you are using your ATV off road, do your research to ensure the model you choose is a good fit with your land. Many farmers use quads for forestry purposes, for example. If this is something you will need to do, it may also be worth investing in a roll cage for safety.


Who will be driving your ATV? 

Like all farm machinery, ATVs are potentially dangerous. The best way to prevent accidents is by ensuring anyone driving your quad is competent, well trained and has the necessary equipment - a helmet is the most important thing.

Will you be the only person driving the quad, or will your employees or family members use it? In the event of an accident, you – as the employer – will need to show you carried out a risk assessment and provided employees with training. It is also important to be aware that it is illegal for children under 13 to drive or ride on ATVs. The HSE requires that you should always wear a helmet when riding an ATV and their website gives some useful advice on which types of helmet are suitable.

Although they look large enough, most quad bikes are simply not designed to carry more than one person, and a number of accidents have been caused by passengers riding on mud guards or sitting behind the driver. Quads that are designed for two riders have foot pegs, so that is a feature to look out for if you’re considering which model to choose. However, if you know you will need your ATV to carry passengers the best thing to do is to ask manufacturers for advice.


Where will you store your quad? 

Quad bike thefts are common, largely because of the strong second hand market and because they are relatively easy to steal. At Cornish Mutual, we have handled a number of claims from farmers who have lost quad bikes to thieves by leaving them in fields or lanes. Before investing in an ATV, consider where you can securely store it, ideally in a lockable building.


Key take-away points

As mentioned at the start of this article, ATVs are extremely useful pieces of equipment, helping with getting around the farm, herding livestock and towing trailers. They are also often involved in farming accidents, fatalities and thefts, so it's well worth taking extra time to put on a helmet, check that everything is working properly and secure the vehicle when not in use.