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Honda threatens to stop selling ATVs if ‘flawed standard’ becomes law

Beef Central, 02/05/2019

FARM vehicle manufacturer Honda has threatened to stop selling ATVs in Australia if a draft standard proposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission becomes law.

The standard is proposed to improve farmer ATV safety but instead Honda believes it is “flawed, unworkable and may put farmers’ lives at greater risk,” the company said in a statement.

“Rather than relying on demonstrated scientific evidence, the ACCC is proposing a standard which, in effect, is experimenting with farmers’ lives,” the company said.

Honda has called on the ACCC to make safety recommendations which are evidence-based, in both criteria and testing methods, to internationally accepted standards.

Honda claimed the draft standard was ‘quietly released’ on Saturday 6 April, in the final days of the current government. It proposes four elements including meeting overseas standards, additional consumer information, fitting an operator protection device (OPD) and stability benchmarks. Two of the four elements lack strong scientific support, Honda says, and the total approach recommended by the ACCC goes against the current best practice found in North American markets, as well as New Zealand.

The requirement to fit OPDs is also not supported by recommendations from Coronial Inquests held in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Speaking after the release of the draft standard, Honda Australia Motorcycle & Power Equipment managing director Robert Toscano said no reputable company could meet the proposal because it “lacked engineering and design rigour.”

“Any company that tries to meet the standard will be open to the accusation that it is playing with farmers’ lives,” he said.

“Honda has expressed to the ACCC many times that it won’t change the design of an ATV where the safety benefits of the change are unknown.”

Of significant concern to Honda is the requirement to fit an aftermarket OPD, or similar in-house design.

“Honda won’t fit devices to our ATVs that real world studies have shown do not improve safety,” Mr Toscano said.

“One requirement is to fit some sort of protection bar that has no design standard or proven safety effect. As some form of experimentation, the ACCC hopes that the farmers will do the testing for them,” he said.

As an example, the draft standard says a New Zealand-made aftermarket OPD product is acceptable – despite it being mounted to a carry rack that is recommended to carry just 60kg on many models. The weight this OPD must support in a rollover scenario is more than four times this recommended limit. Clearly this is at odds with the requirement that products are ‘fit-for-purpose’ under Australian consumer law – legislation that the ACCC was responsible for administering.

Whilst all Honda ATVs already meet the overseas standards now proposed for Australia by the ACCC, the draft also requires a new warning label, and tag based on additional testing.

Honda said it always supported providing customers with better consumer information, but expressed dismay that the proposed label and tag were different to all other markets.

“In what seems like a new layer of regulatory red-tape, additional testing, new labels and new tags will have to be developed just for the Australian market,” Mr Toscano said.

A fourth part of the draft standard would impose some arbitrary criteria for ATV stability. However, rather than set a minimum standard based on evidence, the ACCC proposes some experimental standards, without explaining their relationship to risk or benefit.

“Honda made extensive public record submissions to the ACCC on this part, which have been acknowledged but otherwise ignored,” he said.

“Honda is committed to safety, and deeply frustrated that law makers won’t take actions on the key issues. Ten people died on ATVs in Australia in 2018. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear that wearing a helmet and keeping children off adult-sized ATVs will drastically cut injuries and save lives,” Mr Toscano said. “It is absurd that riders must wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, or even a bicycle, but that it’s OK to not wear a helmet on an ATV. Even if the ACCC succeeds in pushing reputable manufacturers out of Australia, the problem won’t be addressed until wearing helmets is made mandatory, and children are kept off all adult-sized work vehicles, including Side-by-Side vehicles (SSV), Utes and ATVs.”

In an unexpected step, the responsible minister, Stuart Robert did not accept the ACCC’s final recommendation and draft standard when it was submitted to him. Instead, the Minister put it back for public consultation until 10 June.

Honda said it supported the 5-star ATV safety initiative of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (click here to access) http://atvsafety.com.au/ which promotes the known safety practices to improve ATV safety.

 

Source: Honda

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Comments

  1. Gil Schmidt, 04/05/2019

    I thought the ACCC was formed to investigate unconscienceable conduct and insider trading not workplace healthy and safety but now is is an expert in ATV manufacture. The transport Department insists in complying with manufacturers specifications not self espoused experts. How many klms has Raphael ridden on quad bikes? We have done over 100,000 kilometers with no incident. Any competent user uses commonsense and keeps children off bikes.
    I suggest the ACCC investigate the deaths of children from drownings and runovers which are horrendous not issues they know nothing about.

  2. Michael Clarke, 03/05/2019

    EDUCATION is what is required!!!!!!!!!, I have ridden motor cycles for over 50 years and I know I can’t ride up a steep hill and not expect the cycle to flip over backwards, so to when riding across steep slopes. You can’t ride a motor cycle on the road with out being competent. If It will save lives teach people to consider the dangers. ALL ROUND

  3. Raphael Grzebieta, 03/05/2019

    Here we go again–will Honda & FCAI never learn. Keep this smoke & mirrors act up via your Jedi knight hand waving tricks & before you know it quad bikes will be banned not only from farm workplaces but all together! Is that what you really want? Instead of working with safety advocates to make them safer, Honda and other FCAI member manufacturers are in this spiral death dive opposing independent University Research (http://www.tars.unsw.edu.au/research/Current/Quad-Bike_Safety/Performance_Project.html.). Honda’s statement that ““Rather than relying on demonstrated scientific evidence, the ACCC is proposing a standard which, in effect, is experimenting with farmers’ lives,” Seriously Honda! The manufacture and selling of quad-bikes (these are NOT vehicles that can travel over All Terrains by the way and the word ATV should NOT be used) is in itself a massive experiment you’ve carried out with human life where you and other manufacturers have cunningly allured consumers via misleading marketing tactics to purchase these vehicles and use them on ‘all terrains’. It has resulted in many deaths and serious injuries. What a hypocritical statement by Honda. These vehicles are dangerous. Mr Toscano is refusing to accept the results from the UNSW Safety Survey http://www.quadbike.unsw.edu.au/ where we found hard evidence that: “OPDs on balance appear to be effective in reducing serious chest injuries as well as rollover related serious injuries” and “for cases where the Quad bike ‘rolled over the rider’ and a chest injury occurs and/or the rider is pinned, a trend analysis identified that with increasing severity of chest injury, the proportion of OPD fitted vehicles decreases …. the analysis is suggestive that Quadbar and Lifeguard OPDs reduce to some extent serious chest injuries.” This is based on real world in-field data. Neither Honda or FCAI have carried out any similar Australian field studies but instead base their misleading statements on the testimony of biased US defence experts (merchants of doubt) and computer virtual reality programs that have dubious references to anything in the real world to wave the Jedi hand over Coroners and the Community’s eyes. If you decide to leave Honda then that is all the better – that will reduce quad bike fatalities and serious injuries!

  4. Richard Golden, 03/05/2019

    Good on you Honda. As well as the dubious nature of the safety aspects of the OPD the impractical equipment makes the ATV unfit for some of its most important purpose of safely fitting through under branches in the millions of hectares of dense timber in Queensland pastoral landscape.
    We would simply remove the device anyway so that the machine would remain useful, useable and safe.

  5. Andy, 03/05/2019

    Honda Wake up and think about your customers safety
    I own 6 Honda bikes on the farm ,2 are Honda quads fitted with quad bars
    Roll bar has saved me twice
    Once when a bull flipped my quad plus when I hit a wombat hole and potentially rolled
    Both times the quad bar saved me

    I don’t understand why you are opposed to these safety measures
    Get out of your office and talk to real people

  6. Sue Grant, 02/05/2019

    It’s not just Honda,we’ve been told exactly the same thing by Kawasaki and Suzuki.As far as I can see they all regard the ACCC recommendations as an unhelpful and retrograde step.The roll bars could hinder and probably will hinder the operator’s escape room from a rollover.Quad bikes are a simply indispensable contributor to farm productivity.Of course children should not be allowed to drive them;of course they should not be employed on rough,hilly,rocky country;and of course they should not be driven at fast speeds and should at all times,like a horse,be treated with respect.But you cant legislate common sense.Also I am not going to wear a helmut while riding my bike on my property and spraying my weeds in 35 degree weather.

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