Bullbars facing axe in the city

Sunday Herald-Sun

Sunday 16 May 2004

TOORAK tractors fitted with bullbars are set to be banned from Melbourne roads under a State government push to reduce the number of pedestrians killed and injured on metropolitan roads.

The State Government is considering a permit system for all cars and four-wheel-drives fitted with bullbars in the metropolitan area.

Transport Minister Peter Batchelor said if the permit system was feasible, city motorists would have to justify their need for a bullbar.

It is estimated that more than 150,000 motorists in the metropolitan area have bullbars fitted to their cars.

Mr Batchelor said the push for restrictions on bullbars in the city followed a parliamentary road safety inquiry that found bullbars were responsible for the deaths and serious injuries of dozens of pedestrians each year.

"Research has shown accidents are much more likely to be fatal if collisions involve four-wheel-drives, and bullbars are particularly dangerous in collisions with pedestrians," Mr Batchelor said.

"There are certain types of bullbars that are pretty lethal to people and animals."

Mr Batchelor said he recognised it was appropriate for bullbars to be used in some country areas, which would make implementation of the permit system difficult.

He said an Australia-wide approach may be required and he would raise the issue with state and national transport ministers.

The road safety inquiry was told that about 10 per cent of all registered cars are fitted with bullbars.

Research on fatal crashes by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau shows that 90 people die annually from impact with the front of a vehicle equipped with a bullbar.

Of these, 30 were pedestrians, 10 cyclists and motorcyclists and 50 occupants of side-impacted vehicles.

The RACV said that in most driving environments, bullbars could not be shown to conclusively provide safety benefits to either vehicle occupants or other road users.

"While many argue their benefits while driving in rural areas, particularly off-road, it is generally agreed by vehicle safety experts that they possess little or no benefits for city driving," the RACV said.

The Ministerial Advisory Committee of Senior Victorians said bullbars should be illegal, except for approved versions used in defined rural areas.