History of Bullbar

Bullbar - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

A bullbar on a Land Rover Discovery fitted with spotlights and a sand flag.
A bullbar on a Land Rover Discovery fitted with spotlights and a sand flag.
Push bar of a police car in Abu Dhabi, used to move stranded vehicles out of the way
Push bar of a police car in Abu Dhabi, used to move stranded vehicles out of the way

bullbar or push bumper (also called a (kanga)roo bar or nudge bar in Australia, a moose bumper in Canada, and a push barPIT guardPIT barPIT bumperram barram bumperbrush guardgrille guardrammer or cattle pusher in the United States) is a device installed on the front of a vehicle to protect its front from collisions, whether an accidental collision with a large animal in rural roads, or an intentional collision by police with another vehicle, usually during pursuits. They range considerably in size and form, and are normally composed of welded steel or aluminium tubing, or, more recently, moulded polycarbonate and polyethylene materials. The "bull" in the name refers to cattle, which in rural areas sometimes roam onto rural roads and highways.

Studies have shown that using bull bars increases the risk of death and serious injury to pedestrians.[1] This is because the bull bar is rigid, and so transmits all the force to the pedestrian, unlike a bumper which resists some force and crumples. Due to the number of deaths and injuries caused by the rigid fronts of cars, often with metal bullbars (2,000 deaths and 18,000 serious accidents per year in Europe, according to official studies in the UK[2]), the sale of new metal bullbars which did not comply with a European Union Directive was banned in the European Union.[3] However, in the United Kingdom the sale and refitting of second-hand bars manufactured before 2007 or the use of pre-2007 bars already fitted is permitted as per the current MOT guidelines: "It is not illegal for vehicles to be fitted with bull bars, although the Department would not recommend their fitment unless it has been shown, through compliance with specified safety standards, that they do not pose an additional risk of injury to pedestrians or other vulnerable road users. There are no plans for legislation to require bull bars that are already fitted to be removed."[4]

Design and terminology

Bull bar on a semi tractor
Bull bar on a semi tractor

Where cattle are more prominent and where larger four-wheel drive vehicles are used, drivers use larger steel bullbars.

Brushbars (or bush bars) are similar to bullbars, often integrated into the bull bar design. They protect the front of the vehicle, especially headlights, from brush and small trees.

"Nudge bars", another kind of bullbar, are generally fitted to sedans and small SUVs, and consist of light aluminium or polycarbonate tubing that protects only the radiator grille and areas without replacing the bumper bar. Bullbars typically replace the front bumper or fender, so most require indicator light housings.

Bullbars are sometimes used as a platform for mounting spotlights and vehicle recovery winchesRadio antennas for equipment such as CB radios are often mounted onto bullbars, even though mounting on the roof provides better performance.

Bullbars incorporating a winch are often known as "winch bumpers", especially in the UK where the sale of bullbars that do not meet European standards, as mentioned above, was banned since 2007. However, the legislation was not retrospective, and steel frontal protection systems can still be legal, for instance when incorporating a winch fitting.

As a safety feature, traditional bars are built to protect the vehicle, which is considered less safe than allowing controlled deformation to absorb kinetic energy during a collision. Modern design of bullbars and roo bars has advanced, so some vehicle manufacturers and aftermarket companies now offer impact bars which integrate with the vehicle safety system, such as activation of airbags after collision with the bullbar. Plastic bullbars made from materials such as polyethylene are designed to act like a spring and deflect due to the force of a collision so that the vehicle is still driveable after striking an animal. These designs are more "pedestrian friendly" than the same vehicle without any bullbar.[5][6]

There are many aspects relating to the proper construction of a bullbar. It is widely accepted that the channel section which provides the strength for the protection system must be constructed from one piece of material and free from sections bolted on or welded together. The thickness of the material is something which should be considered when choosing a bullbar, generally the thicker the material, the stronger the product delivering greater protection. The grade of material is also important, products manufactured from steel or hi-tensile/structural grade alloys are stronger than a standard alloy or polymer products. Bull bars are popular among the SUV and truck owners in the U.S. and installation of a bull bar is not considered a modification, as this is bolt-on accessory.[7] The most popular materials of the US-built bull bars are polished stainless steel and mild steel with black powder coating. Some states require license plate relocation from the body to the bull bar. However, all states allow installation of aftermarket bull bars as of 2018.

In recent times bullbars have become popular also as a cosmetic accessory, particularly on the larger four wheel drive and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). Studies and media attention to them[8] and their role in increasing pedestrian deaths led to an agreement with the European Union among carmakers not to install them on new vehicles from January 1, 2002.[9] This was followed by a full EU ban on the sale of rigid bullbars (e.g., by aftermarket fitters). Vehicles that already had them fitted prior to the ban remain legal.