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LTSA warns against bullbars on ‘urban tanks'

LTSA online
The Land Transport Safety Authority (LTSA) is warning motorists against fitting bullbars to their vehicles except when they are needed for off-road use.

Director of Land Transport Safety David Wright says the authority is concerned about the widespread use of bullbars on vehicles that don’t need them.

"While bullbars can prevent damage to a vehicle in a minor collision, they can also do a lot of harm to people in a higher speed crash," Mr Wright said today.

"Bullbars tend to be stiff and concentrate crash forces into a smaller area. This can make injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and other motorists much worse in a crash,” Mr Wright said.

But it isn’t just people outside a vehicle that are being put at risk.

“Bullbars may reduce the effectiveness of a vehicle's crumple-zone. This means more of the crash energy may reach the driver and passengers of a vehicle fitted with a bullbar, increasing the risk of injury.

"Bullbars may also affect the timing of airbag deployment in high speed crashes, or cause them to inflate prematurely in a minor frontal crash."

Mr Wright said that while the best option for drivers was not to have bullbars fitted, they should choose carefully if they thought the devices were needed for off-road use.

"If you think bullbars are necessary for your job or for off-roading, look for ones that have been tested and certified by the vehicle manufacturer as compatible with your airbag system.

"Some bullbars are now made from plastic, and these may provide better protection for your vehicle and also for pedestrians in a crash.

“Metal bullbars without deformable padding can do serious damage to other people. If you fit them to your vehicle you should be aware that you may be required to remove them at some point in the future."

Existing regulations prohibit the fitting of bullbars to most passenger cars, and Warrant of Fitness inspectors may refuse to issue a WoF if bullbars fitted to a vehicle do not comply with the requirements of the External Projections Rule.

The LTSA has produced a factsheet offering safety advice on bullbars and outlining the legal requirements for their use. The factsheet is available from all LTSA regional offices or from the authority's website, www.ltsa.govt.nz.

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