Aussie politician risks head injury in photo op

The issue of quad-bike safety continues to be controversial in Australia.  This debate is not helped by inconsistent safety messages on television.  Many of the news bulletins in Australia on 2 March 2010 showed the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, riding, seemingly for the first time, a quad bike on his trip to central Australia.  Sometimes he is wearing a helmet and at other times, not.

Video available on the ABC website shows parts of an apparent induction on how to operate the quad bike.  Abbott then dons a helmet and rides the vehicle cautiously, in what is clearly a media photo opportunity.  Later in the video he is riding without the helmet.  His companions on the ride are similarly without helmets.

Many indigenous lands in Australia are managed with assistance from the Commonwealth Government.  If this is the circumstance for Abbott’s outback ride, it would indicate that recently issued quad bike safety guides by Comcare have yet to reach the centre of the country or be taken seriously.

A major element of safety advice issued by governments and by the motorcycle industry is to follow the manufacturers’ guidelines which include the wearing of helmets at all times.

The ABC video is a useful illustration of the size of the challenge on all parties to have quad bikes used in a safe manner.

Kevin Jones

UPDATE: 3 March 2010

The ABC reports that Tony Abbott was 6 hours overdue after a quad bike trip into Australia’s outback.  Note that absence of any helmet in the accompanying photo but the presence of gloves!?

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