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The fatal attraction of 'fun' vehicles

Blog | By Harry Mount | Jul 11, 2019

Harry Mount, 21, on the Amalfi Coast in 1993, without a helmet

What utter agony for the family of poor Iris Goldsmith, the 15-year-old daughter of financier Ben Goldsmith, killed on a quad bike on the Somerset family farm.

I completely sympathise, too, with the fatal attraction of these machines. I have ridden on quad bikes, mopeds and golf buggies, usually without a helmet. When I heard about this latest incident, I thought, 'There but for the grace of God go I.'

It's tempting to think these accidents are a rich person's preserve, not least when you remember the quad bike injuries sustained by Rik Mayall and Ozzy Osbourne. In fact, they're the tragically logical result of powerful machines that are attractive to all sorts of people (including me), who don't know how to use them properly - and often use them in a holiday setting.

Last week, a British man and woman sadly died in a Jeep crash in the holiday resort of Malia, Crete. Earlier this year, a young British couple died in a buggy crash on the Greek island of Santorini. Another Briton was killed on a quad bike in Crete this year.

When we're on holiday – or off the public roads – we take risks we'd never take in everyday life. We drive machines we've never driven before in a devil-may-care way. The playful nature of golf buggies and quad bikes, and their small size, makes you think you can take risks with them that you'd never take in a family hatchback. The incredible adaptability to rough terrain of quad bikes, in particular, means you race them up and down steep, muddy, uneven inclines that your innate danger sensors would never allow you to approach in a normal car.

My deepest sympathies to the Goldsmiths for their tragic loss and the all-too-familiar situation in which it took place.