Britain may lead way in banning bull bars

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Britain may go it alone and ban dangerous bull bars on off-road vehicles following resistance from some members of the European Union. Baroness Hayman, the roads minister, said yesterday that unilateral action would be considered by Britain as the death toll from what campaigners describe as "killer motoring accessories" continues to rise.

Road safety experts have been arguing for a ban on bull bars for some time because of the threat they pose to pedestrians who are struck by them in accidents. Whereas developments in conventional car bumpers have resulted in more absorbency in accidents - and fewer injuries to pedestrians - bull bars are purposely designed to knock animals out of the way. Injuries to humans can be horrific.

Lady Hayman said: "We have strongly supported European proposals to tackle the bull-bar issue, but unfortunately quick progress on this initiative now looks uncertain given the opposition of some other members states. I believe that effective action is necessary to protect pedestrians from being killed and injured by aggressive bull bars. I have therefore decided that we must look very seriously at national action."

Manufacturers, road safety groups and others are now being asked for their views on a range of options, including an outright ban, and tests on bull bars to see which are "aggressive" - the metal ones, which are seen as presenting the greatest potential danger. The three-month consultation period ends in December.

The AA and RAC both supported action. Richard Freeman, a spokesman for the AA, said: "About 90 per cent of bull bars are there simply as a fashion accessory, to make the vehicle look more butch or macho. They were designed in Australia as a defence against wayward kangaroos, but you don't get many of those in Kensington High Street."