Bull bars, the fashion accessories on the front of cars that were originally introduced in Australia to prevent kangaroos damaging vehicles, are thought to have caused several road deaths and, in laboratory tests, have been shown to be lethal to children at speeds as low as 10mph.
The European Parliament's package, which includes design changes to improve the ability of cars to withstand both side and frontal impacts and action against highly polluting cars, will now be presented to the Council of Ministers for ratification.
Although the plan still has to overcome several bureaucratic hurdles and possible resistance from some member states, the decision of the Parliament is seen as the first step towards a total ban on bull bars.
Richard Woods, campaigns manager of the RAC, which has campaigned against bull bars, said: "This is a clear message from the EU that the days of bull bars are numbered. They negate all the improvements in crash survivability introduced over the past 20 years. It is ridiculous that bureaucrats in Brussels have been holding back from making them illegal."
Transport ministers in Britain have expressed opposition to bull bars but said they are unable to ban them because of EU legislation but the EU's Transport Commissioner, Neil Kinnock, has said that an immediate ban could be imposed.
The success of the campaign by the RAC and the Independent on Sunday against bull bars has led to the recent creation of the Association of Protection Bar Manufacturers earlier this summer, representing nine manufacturers who account for 75 per cent of Britain's output of bull bars.
Its spokesman, Selwyn Rowley, said: "There is no hard and fast evidence that protector bars are dangerous."
However, research by the Transport Research Laboratory suggests that 35 extra deaths per year will be caused annually on Britain's roads by the installation of bull bars.Reuse content