FAQ

FAQs, Rollover Protection Systems (ROPS) or Crush Protective Devices (CPDs) for ATVs


1. Would ROPS or CPDs make ATVs safer?
No. Our view is based on international research which found that all ROPS and CPDs examined in the studies posed an unacceptably high risk of creating new injuries. This research, based on testing with crash dummies as well as computer simulations, indicates that this is a result of several factors, including increased chances of the rider being impacted and/or crushed during an overturns (by the ROPS/CPD, which act as rigid projections on these straddle seat vehicles); or, if the rider is restrained to the ATV, increased brain injuries stemming from tumbling of a small, relatively lightweight vehicle.

2. Why don’t ATV manufacturers put ROPs or CPDs on the ATVs they sell?
ATV manufacturers do not recommend that ROPS or CPDs be fitted to ATVs because they can cause more injuries than they prevent.

3. Which is preferable, a ROPs or a CPD?
Neither is preferable. A ROPS requires a restraint system (e.g., seat belt) to reduce or eliminate impacts between the occupant and the ROPS that occur during rollover. However, tighter restraint systems designed to achieve this have been found to greatly restrict the normal movements of the rider that may be necessary or desired during operation; and also tend to increase brain accelerations and injuries during rollover and tumbling of these small, relatively lightweight vehicles. CPDs, on the other hand, have no belts, and as a result they have been found in tests and computer simulations to impact and crush portions of the rider (e.g., head, limbs, torso, spine, etc) in an overturn.

4. Since tractor ROPS reduce tractor fatalities, wouldn’t ATV ROPS reduce ATV fatalities?

Tractors and ATVs are vastly different vehicles in terms of configuration and capacities (e.g., bench seat versus straddle seat; steering wheel versus handlebar, small size relative to the occupant body size, etc.). In addition, in Australia, tractors less than 500 kg in weight are not fitted with ROPS; and this is the weight category that ATVs are in. Larger, conventional tractors have ROPS, but also have much greater mass than ATVs, are much larger (and therefore more difficult to separate from during rollovers) and generally do not tumble during overturns the way ATVs can tumble, because ATVs are lighter and smaller.

5. What ROPS or CPD research has the industry done, and what has it found?
The main international research on which FCAI members base their opposition to the fitment of ROPS and CPDs on quad bikes was a series of studies conducted by Dynamic Research Inc. (DRI) between 1998 and 2008. Additional international research that provides further support to these findings and was relied upon by the industry was conducted by Failure Analysis Associates (now Exponent) in 1993 and 1994 and by the Motor Industry Research Association in 1999. The DRI studies modelled several types of ATV overturn based on 113 real ATV accidents from the UK and USA, and compared unmodified and modified quad bikes across a range of use and misuse conditions. The DRI analysis used the relevant portions of International Standard ISO 13232 (2005) for Motorcycles – Test and analysis procedures for research evaluation of rider crash protective devices fitted to motorcycles.

6. Has the ATV industry ever tested the QuadBar, made by QB industries?
Yes. In 2007, at the request of the Victorian Coroner, the ATV industry commissioned computer simulations of the QuadBar, using the same international standard-compliant computer simulation used by Dynamic Research Inc in 2008 ( mentioned above), which had been previously calibrated and found to have a very high degree of agreement with full-scale instrumented rollover tests. The result of these simulations were that “In the 113 accident scenarios, the injury risks of fitting the QuadBar were nearly equal to [i.e., 100 per cent of] the injury benefits, in terms of Normalized Injury Cost, and any net benefit was not statistically significant,” whereas International Standard “ISO 13232-5 recommends that [for safety devices] the risk/benefit percentage should be less than seven per cent and should not be more than 12 per cent.” The latter, appropriately low levels of risk-benefit percentage occur in successful safety devices such as 2nd generation car airbags, three point (versus two point) car seat belts, as well as in medical device approvals, medical procedure approvals and pharmaceutical approvals. In contrast, for the QuadBar, it was found that “In some cases the [QuadBar] can strike the rider…, which may increase the probability of injury, resulting in…injury risks…In other cases the rider’s head may become entangled with the [QuadBar],…, which may increase the probability of neck or spinal injury, resulting in…injury risks.” In summary, the QuadBar injury risks have been found to be equal in magnitude to the QuadBar injury benefits.

7. What are the criticisms made about industry’s ROPs and CPD research?
The three main criticisms, raised by promoters and manufacturers of commercial, aftermarket ROPS/CPD devices, are that 1) the accident reconstructions represent conditions that, in their opinion, are  too severe and unrealistic (too steep, too fast, etc); 2) the US and UK accident reconstructions allegedly do not represent Australian conditions; and 3) the computer simulations and testing never attempted to exactly reproduce the injuries recorded in the original US and UK accidents, for ATVs with no ROPS/CPD fitted. The responses to these criticisms are that 1) regardless of what such critics speculate about severity, the reconstructed conditions are based on observations recorded by government investigators in the US and UK, which is the best available information from neutral and centralized sources; 2) currently, there are no accident data publically available in Australia that would indicate whether Australian rollover conditions are more or less severe than, or otherwise different from, those in the US and UK; and 3) whereas in the motor vehicle field, no one has ever attempted to reproduce, by computer simulation or by full-scale testing, individual injuries that occurred in individual cases (as there are too many unknown variables in individual cases, which are generally not recorded by investigators), and the “injury distribution” (in terms of injury types and severities) predicted by the ATV computer simulations across the full sample of US and UK cases does indeed match the “injury distribution” from the original US and UK accidents. The latter, similarity of “injury distribution,” is and has been the accepted practice worldwide in the motor vehicle biomechanics field for decades. Insisting that individual injuries/cases be exactly matched is an attempt to erect an insurmountable barrier to scientific research and application of international standards; and moreover is disingenuous, as the critics have themselves never even attempted any injury evaluation of the devices they are promoting.

8. Is the industry’s research on ROPs and CPDs “fatally flawed?”
No, it is based on application of international standards for testing and computer simulation of motorcycle accidents; using the best available information on ATV accidents from centralized sources.

9. Has the industry done anything to address the alleged criticisms?
Yes, the ATV industry has commissioned new research to address the alleged criticisms, which is now in progress, and which will be reported when it is completed.

10. Have ROPS or CPD manufacturers or promoters done research or testing of their devices, and if so what have they found?
To our knowledge, ROPS and CPD manufacturers and proponents have not undertaken nor published any peer-reviewed research  using instrumented crash dummies and vehicles, injury evaluations, computer simulations of hundreds of reconstructed ATV rollovers, or international standards involving injury evaluation. They have not applied standardized, or any, injury analysis methods to evaluate injury potential associated with their devices.. Instead they have conducted  “tests” such as measuring the strength of  a ROPS or CPD. However, the strength of the device   ( is not the issue: in the cases examined by the industry research to date the ROPS/CPD was strong enough, but the crash dummy recorded injuries and/or fatalities caused by the ROPS/CPD themselves. Injury and fatality probabilities have not been evaluated by ROPS and CPD manufacturers and promoters, using applicable standardized crash dummies, injury criteria or accident data from centralized sources.

11. Is ATVs use in Australia different from ATV use in North America or other regions, so that ROPS and CPDs might be useful here?
In North America, ATVs are primarily used in recreation, and secondarily for utility purposes. In Australia, ATVs are primarily used for utility purposes (i.e., primarily on farms), and secondarily for recreational purposes. However, in terms of numbers of fatalities, the majority (i.e., 63%) of ATV fatalities in Australia during 2001 through 2009 occurred in situations which involve farm/non-work or non-farm scenarios. In addition, the majority (i.e., 75%) of ATV farm/work fatalities in Australia during 2000 through 2008 involved behaviours that were warned against on the standardized warning labels present on the more than 90% of ATVs which meet the ANSI Standard. Currently, there are no accident data publically available in Australia that would indicate whether Australian rollover conditions are more or less severe than those in US and UK. The limited data that do exist indicate that in those few fatal cases where speed has been recorded by government investigators, the speeds are higher in Australia than in the US or UK.

12. If speeds were limited (e.g., either by speed limiter, or due to the nature of farm operations), would a ROPS be more beneficial?
Industry research on this topic, provided to the Victorian Coroner, has found that at speeds less than 40 kilometers per hour, ROPS caused relatively greater injury risks than they did at speeds greater than this; that at even lower speeds, the relative injury risk from ROPS became even greater; and that across all speeds, the total injury risks from ROPs were unacceptably large in comparisons to the total injury benefits. This was apparently due to greater chance of head and limb crush (as opposed to impact) by the ROPS at lower speeds than at higher speeds. Of course, without a ROPS, the number and severity of injuries were substantially less at lower speeds than at higher speeds, and this factor also contributed to greater ROPS injury risks relative to ROPS injury benefits (i.e., since fewer non-ROPs injuries occurred, there were fewer ROPS benefits that were achievable).

13. Why not just fit ROPs/CPDs to ATVs, and see whether they reduce injuries and deaths?
This would amount to “experimenting with living humans,” and is unethical, contrary to norms in most industrialized countries and dangerous, to say the least. It is doubly unethical, contrary to norms and dangerous in light of the results reported in the only published works in this area that have been based on injury evaluation, instrumented crash dummies and the like, which indicate that ROPS and CPDs would cause injury risks that were unacceptably large in comparison to any injury benefits. Moreover, since there are currently no sufficiently detailed, on-scene, clinical or coronial processes and information collection systems in place and publically available in Australia to record the detailed causes of each rollover and each injury, there is no way to determine whether ROPS/CPDs, or other vehicle and environmental surfaces and variables, are causing injuries, and therefore no clear answer to this question is possible, even using such an unethical and ill-advised method.