BULLBARS are an icon of country roads, but their use is a practical one, seen by many as a necessity to fend off panel-damaging critters along the roadside.
However, some bullbars are fixed in the sights of NSW police, who are cracking down on non-compliant designs.
Western Region highway patrol boss Inspector Jeff Boon said police would continue to enforce the rule following a successful one-day blitz last month where highway patrol officers caught 38 motorists with what they had deemed to be illegal bullbar designs.
Some bulbar designs became illegal in 2003 after changes by then Roads Minister Carl Scully to allowable design features.
“They delay deployment of airbags, take away crumple zones, and do all sorts of damage to a pedestrian if you were to hit a person,” Inspector Boon said.
“These bars turn a survivable crash into a definite catastrophe for the pedestrian.”
While 99 per cent of the bullbars on the road were compliant, he said purchasers should be aware of which manufacturers had approved designs.
Motorists fined for non-compliant bullbars are given a defect notice, with about a week to remove the bar, Inspector Boon said.
“They can either put a legal bar or the bumper bar back on. Legal bars are readily available, so it shouldn’t be an issue.”
Manufacturers caught fitting an illegal bar to a NSW registered car risk being fined more than $600.
Bullbars are not allowed to make the car wider, they shouldn’t have sharp edges and should slope back towards the car, following the car’s shape.
One manufacturer said the bullbars were compliant with safety standards, but declined to comment on legal advice.
“We’ve heard some manufacturers have been telling people their bars are compliant when they’re simply not,” Inspector Boon said.
“When a bullbar is fitted, the driver should ask the manufacturer or retailer for evidence that it complies with Australian safety standards.”
A Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) spokesman said RMS was aware of the issue and reiterated all vehicles fitted with bullbars must comply with Australian design rules and road transport regulations.
“The illegal bars face forward to give them more strength and push the animal away from the vehicle so they minimise the damage”.
Several drivers with bullbars to whom The Land spoke were unaware of the rule and thought their bullbars, which cost up to $8000, were legal in every State.
A Wee Waa woman, who wished to remain anonymous, and was about to order a new bullbar from a Queensland manufacturer, cancelled her order after hearing about other drivers being fined and issued defect notices.
“The smash repairer who was fixing my ute told me it’d come back on him if there was a problem, so I’ve gone with another manufacturer,” she said.
Certified, but still considered unsafe at Wee Waa police officers told him the local command was planning to crack down on the bullbars from yesterday.