How the RTA's taken bullbars by the horns

The Sunday Telegraph

Sunday 27 May 2001

Off the road: Owners of 4WDs such as those above may find they cannot register


THE Roads and Traffic Authority will refuse to re-register vehicles with illegal bullbars in a new safety crackdown.

Motorists will receive advice from the RTA with their registration renewal papers later this year warning them that bullbars must comply with Australian design standards.

This means the bullbars must have no sharp edges, protrusions or brackets for lights, fishing rods or aerials which stick out from the front.

While the RTA says it has ``no intention'' of moving to put a blanket ban on bullbars, The Sunday Telegraph has learned it plans to get tougher on illegal bullbars.

Drivers who take their car in for a registration ``pink slip'' could soon find they will be refused if their bullbar does not comply with the Australian standard.

``Bullbars are not illegal per se, but protrusions are,'' an RTA spokesman said.

``We are discouraging people from having protrusions on the front of their cars. We are emphasising they need to be mindful that these things are outside the registration requirements."

Pedestrian Safety Council chairman Harold Scruby said it was time to take cars with illegal bullbars off the road.

``Some of these bullbars make the chariots in Gladiator look like VW beetles,'' he said.

``Everyone who comes in for a pink slip is supposed to comply with Australian Design rule 42.9.1, which says no protruding edges, no winches, no fishing rod holders, no spotlights.

``If the RTA continues to approve these devices at registration inspections, they could find they have left themselves open to legal action.''

Mr Scruby claims 90 per cent of bullbars breach official Australian design rules and are responsible for 20 per cent of pedestrian fatalities.

Critics say bullbars drag pedestrians under the car, while a normal bumper bar is designed to sweep a person on to the hood of the car and lessen the impact.

A 1998 report by the University of Adelaide found that the damage to a child's head when struck by a Toyota Prado equipped with a small-diameter steel bullbar was 10 to 15 times worse than the damage inflicted without one.

``In practical terms, a pedestrian hit by a vehicle equipped with a steel bullbar will be seriously hurt or killed at speeds much lower than those that are usually fatal,'' it concluded.

The Outdoor Recreation Party argues that calls to ban bullbars in urban areas ignore the fact city people travelled to the country.

However, NRMA vehicle safety manager Jack Haley said there was no justification for full-size bars in urban areas.

The NRMA wants to see all bullbars made of the plastic polypropylene to reduce the force of the impact.