Quad bikes have become invaluable vehicles on many estates and farms – often used for rounding up and rescuing livestock, they are ideal vehicles for crossing fields, woodland and more challenging terrain, as well as being practical for transporting feedstuff, fencing, animals and tools. As their popularity and use have widened so have safety concerns, with some high-profile accidents hitting the headlines. Quad bike operators have been injured or killed when their vehicles have rolled unexpectedly and some irresponsible drivers have also caused serious accidents on public roads.
In 2023 the Irish Independent reported that 25% of quad bike accidents recorded in Ireland between 2014 and 2019 involved inexperienced drivers who were under the age of 18 but another 64% of accidents involved people between the ages of 19 and 65. While most serious accidents happened on roads, around a quarter were on farms and many injuries could have been avoided if the drivers had worn helmets or been given adequate training.
Although there were regulations in place for the safe use of quad bikes on public roads the Irish Government introduced new legal requirements for all quad bike use in November 2023, in response to growing safety concerns. Farmers and landowners should be aware that the new legal requirements apply to their safe use on privately owned land.
Quad bike operators must now complete a professional quad bike training course with a registered training provider to a QQI standard or equivalent. An approved helmet must also now be worn by quad bike drivers whether driving the vehicle on public roads or private land.
The new measures are designed to improve safety and reduce serious injury and accidents, ensuring that these indispensable vehicles can continue to be used by landowners across the countryside.