Bullbar hazard angers critics

The Sunday Telegraph – Sunday 21 July 2002

Protection or hazard: Some of the bullbars photographed by the PCA at Cowra

HUNDREDS of vehicles equipped with illegal “Mad Max” style bullbars are still on NSW roads a year after the Government pledged to crack down on them, a pedestrian group claims.

These photographs show what the Pedestrian Council of Australia says are illegal and aggressive bullbars adorning up to 250 vehicles that gathered at the Cowra Picnic Races last week.

“It's a Mad Max cult. It's based on that sort of look,” said PCA chairman Harold Scruby. “These things kill people and having them is nothing more than a case of mine is bigger than yours.”

The Road and Traffic Authority has confirmed that some bullbars photographed by the PCA at Cowra do not comply.

“The photos will be referred to the RTA's inspectors and the police for follow up with the vehicle owners as soon as possible,” a spokeswoman said.

“Most of the cars in the photographs appear to comply with the RTA's guidelines.”

Researchers at Monash University's Road Accident Research Centre said that the bullbars posed a serious danger to pedestrians.

“Those pictures are frightening really. Pedestrians would be in strife,” said research fellow Michael Fitzharris.

In May last year the RTA promised to prevent vehicles with illegal bullbars from being re-registered when they were presented for annual inspection.

Mr Scruby said the Cowra gathering showed that the RTA was failing to pick them up. The RTA, however, said it was satisfied that inspection stations were following the guidelines issued last year. “These checks have not revealed a pattern of non-compliant bull bars passing pink slip inspection,” it said.

Research by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has found that bullbars are involved in up to 20 per cent of fatal pedestrian crashes.

RTA rules ban protrusions on bullbars such as fishing rod holders and spotlights and any sharp or ragged edges.

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association said laws against homemade and dangerous bullbars would be beefed up with the introduction of an Australian Standard for bullbars later this year.

The RTA said it expected to adopt the new standard and would then ensure that all new bullbars complied with it.