The debate regarding quad-bike use is heating up as groups argue about how more deaths can be prevented.
A spate of quad-bike accidents during the Christmas holiday period, ending in death and injury ,has led to renewed calls for better safety around bike use, but involved groups disagree about what should be done to improve user safety and who should take ownership of the issue.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said farmers needed to make quad-bike safety a priority, but Federated Farmers hit back, saying it was recreational users, not farmers, who weren't getting the safety messages. Five quad-bike incidents took place during the Christmas-New Year break, two ending in fatalities.
Wellington Coroner Ian Smith expressed frustration over the issue, calling on the Government to investigate making helmets, lap belts and roll bars compulsory on quad bikes, but parties disagree about whether these features would work.
Ministry spokeswoman Ona de Rooy urged farmers to consider their stress and fatigue levels. She said forgetting to check a bike or making a small mistake because of fatigue could lead to fatal consequences.
The focus of safety messages should be casual users, argued Federated Farmers spokeswoman for health and safety Jeanette Maxwell. Unlike farmers, they often received little training around how to ride the bikes safely.
Farmers had to include bike safety as part of health and safety plans, while recreational users could buy and use a bike unregulated, she said.
"Federated Farmers, along with many other organisations, have made a real effort to target farmers and we'll continue to do that because that's absolutely critical, but there is that whole recreational group," she said.
"We need to find a mechanism that targets that group of people who have a high number of accidents, as well, on quad bikes." Attitudes of recreational users also needed to change, she said.
"Recreational users, quad bikes and alcohol are a cocktail for disaster," she said, referring to a Hawke's Bay incident in which Ashlee Shorrock, 6, suffered serious injuries after the quad bike she was on with four adults crashed.
The group advocated reclassifying quad bikes as agricultural vehicles, which was likely to improve safety.
Labour's Transport Safety spokesman, Iain Lees-Galloway, said the Government should do more to change the culture of quad-bike use to prevent accidents.
He supported Coroner Smith's call to investigate the use of helmets, lap belts and roll bars.
But Federated Farmers did not advocate roll bars, because these had killed as many people as they had saved, by sometimes crushing people when bikes rolled, said Mrs Maxwell.
Former Napier farmer Brian Kirk disagreed, saying roll bars prevented accidents and saved people from being crushed by bikes that usually weighed 300-375kg.
But Mrs Maxwell and Mr Kirk agreed lap belts could also be dangerous by trapping people under bikes.
Research was under way for a promising new design that allowed the bike to bend when pressure was put on certain points, Mrs Maxwell said.
Although opinions are split regarding whether mandatory measures are needed, there is agreement on one key point - it is up to quad bike-users themselves to help prevent more tragedies.