World first for Kaipara

by Paul Campbell

Mystery Creek Fieldays, Golden Standard Award for Innovation winner, Vernon Suckling discussing his flexible quad-bike roll bar with Prime Minister John Key


A Kaipara businessman and inventor has won world-wide attention with a device to safeguard quad-bike riders from injury or death in rollover accidents.

Mr Vernon Suckling, from Ag Tech Industries Ltd in Dargaville, has won the Golden Standard Award for Innovation at the Mystery Creek Fieldays for a quad-bike roll bar which is flexible, while at the same time supporting the weight of the vehicle when upside down.

The device attracted the attention of Prime Minister John key at Mystery Creek, as well as innovation scouts from around the world. It is protected by patents.

“I took the ATV Lifeguard as we have called it to Mystery Creek because a lot of people go there to look for new ideas,” said Mr Sutcliffe.

“I did not think of an award or anything. I was just looking to see it gave others a chance in an accident.”

Mr Suckling was inspired to create ATV Lifeguard because crushing is the most common cause of injury and death in quad bike accidents in New Zealand, and Australia.

The device is flexible and yeilding instead of solid and rigid, as is the case with roll-over bars currently in use.

The segmented construction is a new innovation which has the ability to deflect around a persons body, limbs or head, on impact, while still supporting the full weight of the vehicle.

Mr Suckling expects production of the device to be geared up in New Zealand before the end of the year. It has already won approval from the Accident Compensation Corporation, Landcorp, the Department of Labour and Australian Health and Safety.

Farmers of New Zealand operations director, Bill Guest, says the ATV Lifeguard will be “invaluable.” He added that sheer numbers would ensure a market.

“There are 60 million quad bikes across the United States alone.

“It is soft at the point of impact when deflected but increasing in vertical strength. It cannot collapse, it can spport tons of weight.

It’s strength comes from two fibre cables inside nylon segments.”

The Department of Labour says quad bike accident statistics reinforce the need for safety campaigns, and also the work being done to improve quad bike and farm safety in general.

Last summer there were at least 11 separate incidents involving 13 people — with an even split between those that were work-related on the farm, and recreational accidents.

Quad bike-related claims cost ACC approximately $8.6 million last year.