Widow of top Northern Irish entrepreneur Denis Lynn calls for new law to tackle “quad bike death traps”
- Leading Northern Irish businessman Denis Lynn died in May 2021 following a quad bike accident on his Finnebrogue estate in County Down
- On anniversary of Lynn’s death, his widow Christine now wants the law to change, saying: “These vehicles will continue to be death traps without additional safety measures.”
- Mrs Lynn is calling for the UK to follow Australia in making roll bars mandatory on quad bikes, a measure which would have saved her husband’s life
- Calls also for mandatory helmets, licences and training
The widow of the late Northern Irish entrepreneur, Denis Lynn, is calling for roll bars to be made mandatory on all quad bikes, a measure that she believes would have saved her husband’s life.
Christine Lynn has written to UK transport secretary Mark Harper and authorities in Belfast calling for quad bike safety rules to keep pace with Australia, where roll bars are now a legal requirement.
Lynn’s late husband died nearly two years ago in an accident on their estate in County Down, Northern Ireland.
The founder of Finnebrogue and acclaimed as one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs, Denis Lynn was a regular user of quad bikes, but was crushed by his when it rolled over at low speed one Sunday evening in May 2021.
Now his widow Christine is seeking to raise awareness of the risks posed by the off-road vehicles – and is calling for new rules to reduce the likelihood of similar accidents being repeated.
Christine Lynn commented:
“My late husband Denis, a regular user of a quad bike on our Finnebrogue estate, died in May 2021 following an accident at low speed. I now deem it my responsibility to do what I can to stop an accident like this happening again to another family.
“Denis was a loving husband and father. He left behind me and his four daughters, including Ciara, who was 17 that Spring Sunday evening on the farm when she witnessed her dad have his accident.
“Nothing will bring Denis back; not to us, or the Finnebrogue family which he left behind. We will forever remember the extraordinary achievements which established him as one of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs and changed so many lives for the better.
“But one thing we would all like to ensure is that nobody else suffers Denis’s fate. I know if Denis were still here today – and it was one of his daughters who had been in an accident – he would not rest until we strengthened health and safety rules for quad bikes and increased public awareness into the risks they pose.
“I have been shocked to learn of the number of other similar accidents on quad bikes. I have also been shocked to learn the UK has slipped behind other developed nations such as Australia, where roll bars are mandatory on quad bikes. If there were roll bars on Denis’s bike, he would still be with us. It also seems scandalous that anybody can ride a quad bike off road without a licence – and that in England, Scotland and Wales you don’t have to wear a helmet.
“These vehicles will continue to be death traps without additional safety measures.”
Australia’s Quad Bike Safety Standard came into effect after a long-fought campaign by a coalition of rural voices, including the National Farmers Federation, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Country Women’s Association.
Quad bikes were a major cause of injury and death on Australian farms, where two thirds of fatalities were caused by quad bikes weighing up to and beyond 350kg rolling onto the rider and crushing them (Australia Competition & Consumer Commission’s – ACCC).
From 11 October 2021, all general-use new and second-hand imported quad bikes (utility, work or agricultural models only) sold in Australia must have an OPD pre-fitted or integrated into the design at its point of sale to reduce serious injury or death from a rollover. Mrs Lynn is calling on the government in the UK and closer to home in Northern Ireland to follow Australia’s lead.
Quads are popular in agricultural, forestry and off-road uses because of their power & versatility. While still being fairly small (compared to other off-road vehicles), they allow the rider to power through multiple terrains. However, the quad bike, by design, has a high centre of gravity and narrow wheelbase, which can make it unstable at both low speeds and high speeds.
Roll bars are designed to stop the single-person quad bike from coming down on top of the rider and crushing or asphyxiating them beneath the bike.
Since its implementation, the ACCC say compliance with the new safety standard has improved from 84% in 2021 to 94% in 2022 – and where they found non-compliance, it was largely due to quad bikes being displayed at the point of sale without age warning labels, rollover warning labels, lateral roll stability tags or owner manuals.
At a basic level, there is currently no legislated age restriction or helmet requirements for riding a quad bike in the UK and Mrs Lynn wants to see this ‘guidance’ upgraded. The underlying causes of quad bike accidents are cited as not wearing a helmet, lack of training, inexperience, excessive speed, carrying a passenger, rolling/tipping or towing excessive loads.
Proper training for users, similar to driving any other vehicle should be considered as part of the improved health and safety standards. That includes handling characteristics, ‘good’ rider behaviour, terrain management and general maintenance.
Listen to Christine Lynn’s interview on BBC Good Morning Ulster (at 21mins)
Political support for the campaign – read more here