Quadricycles: a gap in regulation?

About a week ago, Aart Staartjes, an important person in children's television in the Netherlands made contact with a car while driving a quadricylce.[1] He was severely injured by this. A few days later, he died in hospital.[2]

He was also one of the brains behind Het Klokhuis, an educational but also fun television show for kids. It is one of my favorite programs on television.

This made me remember about something I thought about earlier, and that is the weird state of quadricycles.

Let me explain: quadricycles look more like a car than a moped, but by law it's basically a moped on four wheels. It's tiny, and limited to 45 km/h.

But because it's a sort of a moped by law, it also means it has regulations that apply to mopeds, and not cars. The engines are tiny and make huge amounts of noise, but more importantly: car safety regulation does not apply to quadricyles.

Cars have advanced safety systems. By European Union law, it's required to have things such as ABS and ESP, along other safety features. Many cars have lots of airbags, large crumple zones, and special bumpers to limit impact on pedestrians during a collision.

But these cursed quadricycles lack many of these systems. They do not fall under the same regulation. At the moment of writing, not a single quadricycle has a Euro NCAP of above 2 stars. But this is not the ordinary Euro NCAP for cars; it's a rating for quadricycles only, which is far less stingent. So you cannot compare them really.

Unlike cars, quadricycles also do not have to be crash tested before they are put on the market.

These quadricyles seem not much safer than a moped. And you don't have to wear a helmet in a quadricycle.

The Euro NCAP has campaigned twice for safer quadricycles: in 2016 and 2014. Both articles draw a bleak picture of the safety of quadricycles, even at low speeds. What's the most sad to me is that they write that there are simple yet critical safety modifications possible that are not implemented. It is unknown to me if progress has been made the last 4 years.

Just look at this video. Even the seat belt doesn't do it's job, it lets go. These are cars from the 80's that have better safety levels. Sideways impact? slam your head right into the side of the vehicle. Not convinced? This is the highest rated quadricycle. Airbag? No. Steering wheel in your face.

Anyways, so why do people drive these cursed things on four wheels with critical safety shortcomings? For the same reason: regulation. In the Netherlands, you don't have to have a car driver's license(B) to operate this. Only a moped one(AM). The moped one you get for free with your B license. A B license requires you to be healthy enough to drive. An AM license however, does not have this requirement. So that's why people drive these things: because they are not allowed to drive cars but they want to, so they drive these things.

Especially old people, like Aart Staartjes. They often already have the AM license because they already had the B license(which they no longer have). So the most vulnerable people drive in the most unsafe vehicles.

And there will be more and more people driving these things; because the Dutch population is aging, there will be more old people, and I assume there is a portion who will also drive these things when the doctor decides they may no longer drive a car.

I am not sure how common quadricycles are in other countries.

I urge manufacturers and policy makers to take quadricycle safety seriously. For manufacturers I recommend to develop and implement adequate solutions to improve safety of inhabitants; and for policy makers I would encourage them to implement stricter safety requirements for quadricycles. But most importantly, listen to experts who know a lot about this stuff and actually know what they're talking about.

I would like to thank the Euro NCAP for taking the poor state of quadricycle safety to light.

Goodbye, Aart.