Bulldust and bullbars

Know what is safe and what meets the specs


Opinion
Mark Casey, general manager for Tuff Group Australia, manufacturer of Tuff Bullbars, says explanations about what makes a bullbar comply with the rules has confused the discussion, especially around five post bullbars.

Mark Casey, general manager for Tuff Group Australia, manufacturer of Tuff Bullbars, says explanations about what makes a bullbar comply with the rules has confused the discussion, especially around five post bullbars.

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Country drivers want to keep themselves as safe as possible when on the road, so how do they know which bullbar designs are okay to fit to their vehicles?

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If you want to make country people cranky tell them that a city person knows what is best for those who work, live and drive in the bush.

So it is with bullbars, some see the five post bullbar as an essential piece of safety equipment for country driving, while others see them as some sort of weapon of mass destruction.

There has been plenty of commentary, much of it misinformed, about country or five post bullbars.

A big part of the confusion appears to have come about from the broad and often loose use of the term “five post bullbars”, which much of the media and community has conveniently lumped into a group of designs that don’t comply. This is a mistake which is confusing and misinforming drivers.

Legal tolerances do allow for five post bullbars, as long as they comply with design rules, just like any other bullbar design.

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There are no plans to ban five post bullbars – more to the point, Transport for NSW has recognised that five post bullbars provide superior vehicle protection when compared to lighter duty bullbars.

The tolerances can be used to differentiate compliant bullbars made by responsible manufacturers as compared to those made by “back yard” operators, or other poorly designed products. Enforcement officials now have clear tolerances or measurements to follow as compared to the broad statements and out of date information in previous regulations.

A five post bullbar is often the preferred option for those living in areas with high numbers of kangaroos. The posts are the upright structures above the channel of the bullbar and the middle post in the five poster is specifically designed to protect the radiator.

A cracked radiator is not ideal when you are 100 kilometres from home on a dirt road and its 40 degrees in the shade.

Bullbars are available in two, three, four and five post versions. The five post provides the highest level of protection due to the inherent strength of the design.

Some people move to five post bullbars after using imported lighter duty bullbars which do not provide the same level of protection for the vehicle and occupants.

Tuff Bullbars has consulted extensively with Transport for NSW and all its products are compliant with the tolerances and conditions in the moratorium, which is extended to 2019. Former transport minister, Duncan Gay, and his department, have been at the forefront of sensible and practical bullbar regulation and deserve credit rather than brickbats.

The department’s Centre for Road Safety has undertaken engineering studies that show five post bullbars do the job for which they are intended. So the facts are clear, country bullbars are effective and as long as we have kangaroos there will be a need for them.

To check if your bullbar is compliant see the checklist on page 24 of the NSW Bullbar tolerances and conditions http://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/downloads/bull-bar-tolerances.pdf . It is also recommended to purchase bullbars from reputable companies who can assist with questions on compliance.

  • Mark Casey is the general manager for Tuff Group Australia, manufacturer of Tuff Bullbars.
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