Quad bike safety

Quad bikes can be useful to help you work on the farm, but they can't go everywhere and do everything. Accidents involving Quad bikes can be prevented, so heed the safety advice and stay safe.

What are Quad bikes? 

Image of man on a quad bike at Balmoral Show 2014 Quad bikes are motorised sit-astride vehicles that travel on four low-pressure tyres on unpaved surfaces. They have a seat designed to be straddled by the operator, with handlebars for steering control.

These vehicles are intended to be used by a single operator - without a passenger.

While Quad bikes are designed to cope with a wide variety of terrain types, including steep slopes, they can't go everywhere and do everything. If used outside their safe operating limits they can very rapidly become unstable. 

Common hazards

The main causes of serious or fatal injury associated with Quad bikes are:

  • being thrown off during vehicle overturns or after loss of control
  • collisions with structures, for example trees or other vehicles
  • being trapped/asphyxiated under an overturned machine
  • pedestrians being struck or run over by Quad bikes

​Other factors can contribute to the causes of accidents and injuries, for example:

  • lack of formal operator training and/or experience
  • incorrect/lack of appropriate head protection
  • excessive speed
  • age of the operator
  • carrying a passenger
  • unbalanced loads or overloading
  • tipping on a bank, ditch, rut or bump
  • loss of control on a steep slope combined with other factors like poor ground or load conditions
  • towing excessive loads with un-braked equipment
  • poor maintenance of the vehicle, such as faulty brakes or incorrect tyre pressures

Personal protective equipment

Quad bikes are not fitted with either a cab or roll bar, so your only protection is what you wear. In particular, head protection is vital.

You should always wear a helmet when riding a Quad bike. Many Quad bike fatalities have been caused by head injuries and helmets would almost certainly have prevented most of these deaths.

All helmets should be manufactured and tested in accordance with the current relevant EN/BS standard, have a chinstrap and be capable of being used with suitable eye protection.


Wear clothing that is strong and covers your arms and legs. Gloves are useful for protection and handlebar muffs can help to keep hands warm in cold weather for good control of the Quad.

Wear sturdy, ankle-covering footwear, for example, boots or wellingtons that are strong, supportive and have good wet grip.

Protect your eyes from insects and branches with either a visor or goggles.

Roll-over protective structures (ROPS)

HSENI’s current advice is that roll-over protective structures (ROPS or crush protection devices) are not recommended for Quad bikes.

Research has shown that they may lead to an increased risk of injury in the event of an overturn by either preventing the operator from separating from the machine or striking the operator as the machine overturns.

Lap straps or seat restraints should not be fitted as they prevent the rider from moving on the Quad to keep it properly balanced. Lap straps or seat restraints would be potentially lethal without a full cab or roll cage.

Weather cabs on Quad bikes restrict a rider’s ability to jump clear in an overturn - the rider is likely to be crushed within the cab unless it is strong enough to withstand the forces involved.

Children and Quad bikes

Quad bikes are not toys and many children have been involved in serious and fatal accidents caused by them.

Only properly trained people, within the recommended age range, (the minimum for a farm type Quad is usually 16 years), should be allowed to ride a quad. And, they must wear the correct helmet and be adequately supervised.

Passengers, including children, must never be carried on quad bikes.


If you have to park on a slope, always park across it unless it is too steep. 

Accidents have occurred when machines have run down slopes because of poor brake maintenance, particularly while they are being loaded and movement or the increase in weight has set the machine in motion.

More safety tips

  • make sure all quad bikes are properly maintained and kept in a safe condition
  • take care on slopes and rough terrain – never exceed the capabilities of the bike
  • don’t do tasks that interfere with safe riding - keep both hands on the bike

More information