Eleven-year-old Sam Cason went for a sleep over at a friend's house and never came home.

A dangerous everyday activity is killing one Australian every few weeks. 

Sam Cason was a carefree country kid.

Aged 11, he was a sporty boy who loved footy and the Geelong Cats. His favourite player was Tom Hawkins.

He was a protective older brother to his two siblings, Lilly and Zac, and had lots of friends.

Sam Cason. Image via Facebook.

He dreamed of becoming a diesel mechanic, playing country football and staying close to his family.

But those dreams were crushed on October 2, 2011, when the 30kg boy was killed by a quad bike almost 10 times his weight.

As he tooled around on the 500cc quad bike during a sleepover at a friend’s house in rural Victoria, he was not wearing a helmet or being supervised – two completely normal and lawful circumstances in country Australia.

But they are also two of several things that need to change, according to his mother, Emily Cason.

“He was really lovely, cuddly and beautiful. Of course, he was cheeky, like all kids,” Ms Cason told Mamamia.

But Sam’s fatal accident was not a one-off. Far from it, in fact.

quad bike deaths
Molly Lord, 13, died in July 2012 when a quad bike overturned on gravel at the family’s rural property. Image via

There have been more than 200 quad bike deaths since 2001. And between 2001 and 2010, around one in five of those fatalities involved children under the age of 16.

Quad bikes are a normal part of rural life, used as an important work tool in farming tasks. And for kids, tearing around a paddock on a quad bike is one of the many joys of growing up in the country.

But quad bikes are the biggest killers in the farming world. Weighing around 300kg, the machines have a tendency to rollover, even at slow speed, crushing or asphyxiating the rider.

According to Safe Work Australia, at least 13 people have died on quad bikes across the country so far this year, including a six-year-old boy, a seven-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy.

quad bike deaths
A quad bike, or ATV. Image via Wikipedia.

But momentum to make the deadly ATVs safer is growing, with coronial inquests taking place in Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria.

In handing down his findings yesterday, Queensland coroner John Lock said children under the age of 16 should be banned from riding adult-sized quad bikes and helmets should be mandatory for all.

He said children were 12 times more likely to suffer serious injuries in quad bike accidents than adults, making it “clearly inappropriate” for children under six to ride a quad bike of any type, the ABC reports.

Laws introduced in parts of the US to ban kids from riding adult quad bikes over the past decade has led to a significantly reduced number of fatalities, the inquest was told.

The Cason family – father, Dean, and mother, Emily, with Sam (right), Zac (left) and Lilly (middle). Image via Facebook.

The coroner also recommended mandatory training.

Ms Cason – now an active campaigner for improved safety standards – said she “absolutely” agreed with the recommendations, but was sceptical about whether they would lead to action.

She said there was so much resistance, especially from farmers using the vehicles on private property, likening the changes to the introduction of seatbelts in cars and roll bars on tractors.

“Every time there’s something new that comes up, there’s always people who resist,” Ms Cason said.

“I think it might happen, but I think it will take a lot of work and education.”

The Cason family holding a picture of their much-loved son and brother, Sam. Image via Facebook.

Ms Cason said it was her life’s mission to reform the lax standards currently in place.

“I’m committed and I will do what I have to until there is change.”

She said coping with the loss of her son’s death does not get any easier with time, but it gives her a cause to fight for.

“I, unfortunately, have been put in the position where I can talk about it and people might listen,” Ms Cason said.

“It’s hard and it hurts, but on the other hand, it might help someone else. What happened to me, can happen to anyone.”

She is making the most of her unenviable position in the hopes that one less parent will share her pain.

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