Safety first, guard next

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Govt Bans crash guards on vehicles, read a headline recently in Deccan Herald.

This caught my attention as I had written about this enormous fencing or crash guards that is fixed to protect vehicles.

Bars are fitted in violation of the Motor Vehicles Act and are a threat to pedestrians and other road users, read the explanation. This vindicated my stand taken more than two years ago and NorthBangalorePost is proud to have flagged the concern first.

Read the original copy here and remove the crash guards before a policeman flags you down. Or report such sightings on ThirdEye, a Bangalore City Traffic Police app.

Careful of the Bull Bar bully

At a busy junction in Panjim, Goa, recently, my car was rear-ended deliberately by a Tata Sumo taxi, with a huge black Bull Bar or crash guard affixed to its front. The only fault of mine was not giving way to a local taxi.

As you can imagine, my humble Santro was bruised a bit, while the offender, safe behind that fence affixed to his vehicle, drove away scratch less…

Enter the Bull Bar Bully.

Amongst the many accessories that are on offer to car owners are the range of very secure looking bull bars (a protection for the front end of a car typically made of steel, plastic or FRP).

A few are sleek and elegant, others plain ugly. But good looks are not the point of discussion here, rather the threat they pose to pedestrians and other road uses and the false sense of indestructibility it gives drivers of bull bar fitted vehicles.

I asked the driver of my office cab as to why his Sumo had this really intimidating bull bar. “Nann gaadige yenu aagalla saar (Nothing can damage my vehicle, sir)” was his reply.

Well that made perfect sense: You build fences around your house to protect yourself, and it made logical sense to add one to your vehicle too.

Vehicles with Bull Bars puts other road user at a much higher risk of injury during an accident. In many countries the Bull bar is completely outlawed or its design highly regulated.

In others, usage of bull bars permitted only in vehicles operating in certain locations or professions (such as areas prone to wild-life crossings or cattle). However in India, there is no explicit law that prohibits the sale or fitments of Bull Bars.

Vehicle designers focus a lot on safety parameters, not only for passenger safety but safety of fellow road users as well. Euro – NCAP, the crash rating agency in Europe even has a dedicated Pedestrian Protection Safety Tests now and manufacturers are working hard to meet these standards.

After-market bull bars often distort vehicle design and end up damaging other road users substantially more than a standard vehicle.

The bull bar is not good for the vehicle either as it is often mounted on the chassis which gets completely damaged in case of a high-impact collision.

Even lesser impact accidents often result in radiators or bonnets being bent by the crashed metal bars from such accessories. Add the fact that badly designed bull bars interferes with vehicle aero-dynamics and couple this with added weight, this also marginally lowers fuel efficiency.

So if you thought the Bull Bar was your protection from the mad traffic around you, think again. Be a considerate motorist and say no to this accessory, lest the world looks at you as a Bull Bar Bully!

(Sandeep Sahadevan is an auto enthusiast and anything on wheels moves him. Write to him for advice at northbangalorepost@gmail.com)

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