Quad bikes are indispensable on many farms, providing an efficient way to get around quickly and over all types of landscape. They are also popular with thrill-seekers and off-road riders. But following a number of accidents, the safety of quad bikes has been called into question. Here is what you need to know about the rules and regulations surrounding them.

1. What is a quad bike?

A quad bike or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) is a four-wheel powered vehicle which is generally designed for off-road use, for example on farms or on purpose-built tracks.

  1. Who can drive one?

You’ll need a licence to drive a quad on a public road – which type depends on the weight and power of the quad bike. Minors can use quad bikes on private property but need a licence to drive on public roads. At 16 you can get a licence for light quads of 350kg or less with a maximum speed of 45 km/h, for other types of quad the age is 17 years. Controlling a quad bike requires strength and skill, so is not suited to the under 16s.

  1. Where can I drive a quad bike?

If used on a public road which includes footpaths, quads are subject to all of the regulatory controls that apply to other vehicles, i.e. it must be roadworthy, registered, taxed and comply with all regulations. If you are driving on private property this does not apply, but remember if you need to cross a public road to get from one field to another, it will be subject to all of the regulatory controls mentioned above.

  1. What safety features are available?

Seatbelts are not required on a quad, but if one is fitted it should be worn. Roll over bars are not recommended – research has shown that roll over bars are more likely to increase the likelihood of injury by obstructing the rider either when thrown off or when jumping off during an overturn. It is currently not a legal requirement to wear a helmet on a quad, however it’s good advice to always wear one for your own safety.

  1. Can I get training before I use one?

It’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the safety protocols before using a quad bike. The HSA has useful information for the safe use of quad bikes on their website.  

  1. Can I carry a passenger?

No, unless the vehicle was originally manufactured to carry a passenger.

  1. Are there any tips to avoid spills?

Uneven or unfamiliar ground is often a factor if a quad bike overturns. You’ll know your own farm, but if you are driving over new terrain, it’s a good idea to walk the route beforehand. Also bear in mind the effect that changing weather can have on the ground and therefore your stability, and also the impact of loads and attachments being carried.

  1. Is maintenance important?

Absolutely. As with all farm vehicles you’ll want to keep your quad bike in good condition. Off-road riding is especially hard on a quad so it is essential to carry out maintenance according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, paying particular attention to the tyres, brakes and controls.

  1. What are the main causes of accidents?

Excessive speed, poor physical mobility, and inexperience are often underlying causes quad accidents. Care should also be taken when attempting to climb steep slopes, and on uneven ground where it is easy to tip on a bank, ditch or rut.

  1. What do I need to know about insurance?

You are required to have Third Party insurance at the least, if you are going to drive on public roads. Check to see if your no-claims bonus from other policies can be transferred. Store it securely in a shed or garage to keep insurance costs down. Also remember to list the quad bike on your insurance policy in case of theft. Get in touch with a broker such as Britton Insurance to talk through your options.