A year out from the expected changes to bullbar design compliance, a petition has been raised to seek exemptions for certain designs for rural and remote registered drivers, nominated by postcodes, to maintain the larger five-post safety bars.
The Deni Ute muster will see the start of the petition to maintain five-post bullbars. The Land has been alerted that the period of grace for changing bullbars to new requirements has been extended by another year - to September 2019.
The Centre for Road Safety has announced the extension on its website: “The exemption period has been extended to September 2019. The extension of the Order will enable the development and implementation of an education campaign for manufacturers, retailers and consumers. The objective is to provide a greater understanding of the safety benefits of bull bars, particularly the protection provided at times of animal strike, based on the research completed by the Centre for Road Safety.”
The former Nationals NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay gave a two year dispensation for people to comply with the new regulations. This was extended for another year to September 2018, by the current NSW Government. It is believed the bullbar advisory council successfully advocated for another year’s extension – but it seems to have been only announced on a safety website.
Police said the questionable bullbars compromised safety features in cars such as airbags and crumple zones and were a risk to pedestrians. They were deemed a danger mainly in city areas. The Pedestrian Council of Australia says bullbars are a factor in up to 12 per cent of pedestrian deaths.
But the Nationals candidate for Murray, Austin Evans, has reignited the debate on the future of the big bullbars, declaring he wants an exemption for rural and regional drivers, claiming they are a “necessity” for country road users.
“As long as we have kangaroos and other wildlife on our roadways, there will be a need for heavy duty bullbars,” Mr Evans said.
“Bullbars aren’t a fashion accessory in the country, they’re a necessity.
“As such, country people should not be punished for wanting to protect themselves and their families.”
He is starting a petition at the Deni ute muster to overturn the ban. He wants a system where drivers can have the bullbars in regional areas, designated by their postcode.
Kevin Foster of Almet Engineering in Griffith, who manufacture bullbars, supported Mr Evans plans but questioned if a postcode system would work. “If I have a (bullbar) on my car would I be banned from going to the city?”, he questioned.
Mr Foster said he saw no difference between four post and five post bullbars in terms of pedestrian safety. The fifth post just gave more support, which was needed and prevented radiator damage from animal strikes. He said all bullbars anyway had to comply with Australian Design Regulations with smoothed corners and other features.
He said the five-post ban was just another hit at country people who were daily facing animal strikes on the road.
“I travelled five hours up to Cobar the other day and I saw roadkill every 200 metres – deers, pigs, kangaroos, you name it,” he said.
“If I hit an animal and don’t have adequate bullbar protection I’m probably off the road, maybe into a tree, and then if I need help probably out of mobile range. I’ve probably done my radiator and going nowhere.
“Country roads are made for hitting animals. Kangaroos get in the table drain and then when they get hit foxes come in and eat them, and they can pierce a tyre too. I had to dodge a number of wedge-tails on the road as they were so full from eating roadkill meat they could hardly fly.”
Mr Foster said the average bullbar cost about $6000. Re-fitting bullbars would be hugely expensive.
“I can understand why they have no place in the city, but out here we need them. Imagine if you’re a stock and station agent and you hit an animal, that’s your car out of action for seven weeks at the panel beaters.
“I don’t understand the safety difference. If you get hit by the front of a car or a bullbar at 60km/h that’s it, you’re going to get hurt the same.”
Transport for NSW gave this response to The Land on Friday: “Under the Ministerial Declaration (Bull Bar Exemption), five-post bull bars are allowed on vehicles provided they meet the specified bull bar and vehicle tolerances and requirements. The order has been extended for a further period of 24 months, effective from 16 September 2017.
“The extension of the Order will enable the development and implementation of an education campaign for manufacturers, retailers and consumers. This will be developed by Transport for NSW in partnership with industry with an aim to help customers, retailers and manufacturers understand the safety benefits of bull bars, particularly the protection provided at times of an animal strike.
“The education campaign will be based on research undertaken by Transport for NSW’s Centre for Road Safety which found that lighter, streamlined bull bars that follow the general shape of the vehicle help reduce the damage to both sedan-type vehicles and 4WD-type vehicles following an animal strike. No further exemptions are being considered at this time.”