Council calls for ban on bull bars

The West Australian

Saturday 1 March 1997
By Shaun Anthony

The Pedestrian Council of Australia has called for a ban on bull bars, claiming they are responsible for about one pedestrian death a week.

Council chairman Harold Scruby said bull bars were a fad that served little if any purpose and threatened the lives of pedestrians, other motorists and the drivers of vehicles fitted with them.

He said modern vehicles had plastic bumpers and rounded surfaces which made them safer for pedestrians. Bull bars negated such benefits and there were compelling reasons for them to be banned.

But the Federal Office of Road Safety disagreed saying it was unlikely that bull bars were a big factor in pedestrian deaths. FORS motor transport branch acting assistant secretary Keith Seyer said there was no way to test the danger of bull bars to pedestrians.

But because 20 per cent of road fatalities were pedestrians, researchers should try to make the front of vehicles less harmful to pedestrians.

FORS crash statistics director Michael McFadden said 1992 figures, the most recent available, showed that full bars might have been a factor in 20-25 of 350 pedestrian deaths.

Dr McFadden said bull bars were fitted to 34 of the vehicles involved in the deaths. But seven of the pedestrians were not hit by the bull bars and about half of the others died because of the size or speed of the vehicle.

Dr McFadden said more obvious factors in pedestrian fatalities were alcohol, which had affected 100 of the victims, and age, with 143 of the victims having been older than 60.

The WA Office of Road Safety urged drivers to think twice before fitting bull bars to their vehicles, particularly in the city. Poorly designed bull bars could increase damage to the vehicle in a crash, increase fuel consumption and cause more severe injuries to a pedestrian.

Office of Road Safety chief executive Tony Middleton said correctly designed bull bars would strike pedestrians at a low point and flip them on to the bonnet of a vehicle.