Suzuki’s Position on Operator Protection Devices on ATV

As we are an authorised dealer for Suzuki motorcycles and ATV’s, we share the below statement from Suzuki Australia issued 5 June 2019.

Suzuki manufactures motor vehicles, motorcycles, ATVs and outboard engines, all of which enjoy a reputation of being high quality and value for money.

Suzuki invests significant time to ensure that its products excel in fulfilling their intended usage without compromising safety, reliability or durability when used as directed.  All of our ATV products meet or exceed the USA ANSI/SVIA Standard 1-2017.

ATV usage in the Australian agricultural market is unique, in that ATVs provide a versatile transport and light load carrying solution that cannot be matched by any other product available in the market. Some crossover applications can also be fulfilled by motorcycles or side-by-side vehicles, but neither of these product groups can fulfil the ATVs unique breadth of tasks as effectively or efficiently.  Suzuki strongly recommends that during the purchasing process people select the right vehicle for their intended application.

For decades Suzuki has stipulated, both in the owner’s manual and through warning decals placed on our ATVs, that helmets must be worn during usage, that children under the age of 16 should not use an adult size ATV, that no passengers should be carried on our ATV products and that all riders should be familiar with the ATV controls and trained in correct usage of the ATV.

Suzuki acknowledges the Federal Government and ACCC’s ambitions to reduce the number of deaths and injuries that occur on Australian farms. The ACCC’s proposal is to require the fitment of Operator Protection Devices (OPDs), that ATVs meet a minimum level of lateral stability, and the fitment of additional warning labels at point of purchase relating to rollover potential. It is Suzuki’s view that the only reason the Federal Government and the ACCC  are considering this proposal is due to a failure of State Governments and WHS agencies  to mandate user behaviour  requirements for the wearing of helmets, to ban children from utilising adult size ATVs, to ban passengers from riding on single user ATVs and to mandate training and, if needed, licensing of ATV riders. The introduction and enforcement of such mandatory user behaviour safety measures would have saved many lives and injuries to date, and could begin saving further lives and preventing further injuries immediately.

Internationally significant research conducted by US-based firm Dynamic Research Inc. has determined that OPDs can cause as many fatalities and injuries as they may save.  Such devices cannot be considered safety products when they may cause injury and pose a detriment to safety.  Due to the proposed timeline for the mandatory application of OPDs to all new ATVs, and considering the quantity of ATVs currently in the Australian market, it will be

many years before the benefits of OPDs are sufficiently tested, and, devastatingly, there will be more deaths and injuries in the intervening period.  

Many of these deaths and injuries could be avoided from today if the user behaviour safety measures proposed above are mandated and enforced by State Governments and WHS agencies.

Of additional concern is the recommendation by Governments and WHS agencies that consumers source an alternative vehicle to fulfil tasks best served by an ATV. This has a twofold problem. Firstly the user of a side-by-side vehicle may be in increased danger if they attempt to fulfil a task for which the vehicle is not best suited. Secondly, and more importantly, the failure by the Government to mandate and enforce the manufacturer’s user behaviour safety recommendations (including wearing helmets, wearing supplied seat belts, closing doors provided and undergoing vehicle usage training) will continue to result in a similar rate of death and injury for the foreseeable future.

Under the proposed ACCC recommendations Suzuki would be required to fit or integrate OPDs into the design of our ATVs.  This would not make the vehicle safer and would potentially make it less safe.  No country in the world other than Israel requires this. Other countries have recognised these safety concerns. Product safety is of primary concern to Suzuki. As a result, if the ACCC’s recommendations are implemented, Suzuki will withdraw its ATV product from the Australian market.

Currently submissions are open until the 10th of June for people to respond to the ACCC’s ‘Quad Bike Safety, Final Recommendation to the Minister’ of February 2019.  Suzuki encourages people to respond to the ACCC’s recommendations and make submissions by the cut-off date. Submissions should be lodged at https://consultation.accc.gov.au/product-safety/quad-bike-safety-standard-exposure-draft/.

In addition, Suzuki requests that people who are concerned with farm safety and the current rate of death and injury in ATV accidents make their voices heard with their State Member of Parliament and insist that Government agencies act to mandate user behaviour safety measures when using ATVs.

Paul Vandenberg
General Manager – Aftersales
General Manager – Motorcycles