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Honda Australia Motorcycle & Power Equipment Pty. Ltd.

ABN 96 006 662 862

1954-1956 Sydney Road, Campbellfield, VIC 3061


Private Bag No 19 Somerton, VIC 3062
Ph: (03) 9270 1111
Fax: (03) 9270 1133 (Admin) Fax: (03) 9270 1122 (Sales)
www.hondampe.com.au

16th May 2019

Dear Mr Armstrong ,
You accuse my company of an infantile reaction towards proposed ATV regulation (Farm
Online 8 May, 2019).
I accuse you of misleading your farmer members; not just in your acceptance and promotion
of inconclusive testing, reliance on opinion rather than science and acceptance of a flawed policy
that promotes certain safety measures that lack any standards or correlation with real safety
outcomes – but also in that your support of this current proposal will mislead your farmer members
and other users down a much more dangerous path.
Firstly the research - yes of course we paid for the research, and substantially – but who else
was prepared to do this? Nearly twenty years ago, the Australian ATV industry commissioned
research into various Operator Protection Devices (OPDs). The early results found some of these
devices just outright dangerous, and the rest causing about as much harm as protection.
Subsequently the Victorian coroner asked the ATV Industry to have our research company review the
prototype Quadbar. The company chosen to do the very specialist research was an American
company, DRI - very well respected experts with extensive experience in road & ATV safety, dynamic
simulation and works extensively for the US government’s National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration. DRI has even worked for NASA on space craft simulations.

The majority of this research was published and over the next 15 years or so has been run and
re-run as coroners, peers and critics called for extra testing, broadened inputs (eg speed, detailing
injured parts of the body etc) and other enhancements. The results always showed similar results –
that is, no significant safety benefit over all the simulation inputs.
We have never said that OPDs will definitely harm a particular user but all the simulations
show no better than about a 50:50 risk/benefit overall (50:50 is my expression – not a research
expression). No safety expert worth their salt would consider accepting a 50:50 chance of helping
someone or hurting someone also.
Our paid research and the research of a number of other experts was thoroughly examined,
particularly over the past 5 years, by coroners in NSW, Qld & TAS and in all cases the coroners did not
recommend the fitting of OPDs, instead calling for more research to be done.
Despite four attempts by the ATV industry to outline the OPD simulation results and science
to the NFF, you have failed to inform yourself on the facts. If you don’t believe the industry’s
research, and, after very detailed and careful analysis, none of the other research convinced 3
coroners, then surely you are suggesting that your farmers do the research themselves? Mr
Armstrong, how can you live with that?

What’s even more concerning, Mr Armstrong, is that by publicly endorsing this proposal that
OPDs will make ATVs safe, you are misleading your farmer members away from the real and proven
safety measures – measures that all coroners recommended. Seriously, Mr Armstrong, will the new,
‘safer’ ATVs you endorse mean that it will be OK for children to use them, or that helmet use can
decline, or that your farmers will have less need for training?

If this ACCC proposal is accepted, when Honda pulls out of the ATV market, we will still sell
Side by Side vehicles and we will continue to spend our money to promote known safety measures
for these vehicles, which by the way are almost the same as for ATVs – always wear a helmet, no kids
under 16 to drive a SxS, etc
Despite two requests by the ATV industry in 2018 requesting the NFF to cooperatively
announce safety statements on helmets and banning children under 16 years (from adult size ATVs),
the NFF is yet to respond; this is extremely disappointing.
Mr Armstrong, what are you really doing about ATV safety?

Here is our positive suggestion. Let’s right now come together and ensure all children under
16 are banned from riding adult-sized ATVs. If this had occurred 6 months ago, the lives of 3 children
would have been saved. We can do it right now. No arguments, no expensive cost, no unclear
benefits, just immediate life-saving.

Let’s also make wearing helmets 100% mandatory. All experts, scientists, researchers and
coroners agree. So let’s do it.

Then we can go back to debating these other proposals, secure in the knowledge that,
together, we are saving lives and reducing injuries.

Robert Toscano
Managing Director
Honda Australia Motorcycles
& Power Equipment Pty Ltd

cc Sharon O’Keefe, Farm Online

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