With Christmas one week away, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána are advising parents who might be considering buying their child a mini-motorbike or quad bike of the dangers associated with these and other such mini-motorised vehicles.
Warning of the potential dangers of these vehicles, RSA Chief Executive, Moyagh Murdock said: “We are not trying to be the Grinch at Christmas or tell parents what they buy their children, what we are trying to do is raise awareness of a serious road safety issue. Mini motorised vehicles are again becoming a popular present to give to children at Christmas and although they might seem like a bit of fun, they are not toys, they are in fact powerful machines, which have killed and seriously injured children who use them.”
While perhaps great fun, mini bikes and quad bikes pose significant dangers to young children. Medical professionals have advised the RSA of the types of injuries that appear in Emergency Departments of hospitals as a result of using these mini motorised vehicles. Typical injuries associated with these vehicles include fractures and head injuries.
Tragically mishaps on these vehicles have resulted in the deaths of children in the UK and Ireland over recent years.
In order to use a vehicle in a public place, a range of requirements must be satisfied and the vehicle must comply with vehicle standards regulations. Quads are designed for off-road use and do not conform to regulations in relation to tyres, lights, indicators, etc and it is therefore illegal to use them on the road. Mini-motos (small motorbikes), quads are only allowed to be used on private land and only with the permission of the landowner.
For a rider to use a mini motorised vehicle in a public place, they must; be over the age of 16, wear a helmet, hold a valid driving licence, hold third party insurance and hold the appropriate motor tax certificate. These are required by Road Traffic Law and those found to have breached these requirements are liable to penalties enforced by An Garda Síochána.
Mini motorised vehicles are legally termed ‘mechanically propelled vehicles’ (MPVs) and are governed by the Road Traffic Act 2004 which makes it an offence to supply a mechanically propelled vehicle to a person under 16 years of age for use in a public place.
A person is liable to a fine of up to €3,000 or 6 months in prison, or both for selling or supplying a ‘mechanically propelled vehicles’ to a minor. Mini-motorised motorcycles and quadbikes also come within this definition.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn said: “We cannot emphasise enough that these are not toys – they are powerful MPVs and in inexperienced hands or on unsuitable terrain they have the potential to severely or even fatally injure someone. That is why they are unsuitable for children. The last thing anyone wants is a tragedy, especially at Christmas, involving one of these motor vehicles. We also must emphasise to parents considering buying these for their children that all road traffic legal requirements must be complied with”.
Ms. Murdock concluded by saying that “under no circumstances should a child be riding these vehicles as they simply do not have the skills, the strength or the reaction speed to be able to handle motorised vehicles. We are urging parents and guardians not to buy these for their children to ensure their child does not get harmed this Christmas.”
There have been several quad bike accidents in Clare in recent years including a fatal incident in the east of the county where a young boy died in 2014.