Major intervenes to back ban on killer bull bars

Transport/ 'macho' accessory
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The Independent Online
BRITAIN may be able to go it alone in banning bull bars, the potentially lethal metal grilles which have become a popular fashion accessory on the front of cars and vans, despite statements by ministers that the UK must conform to EC legislation, writes Christian Wolmar, Transport Correspondent.

Last week John Major asked Brian Mawhinney, the Transport Secretary, to investigate the possibility of a ban. The Independent on Sunday and the RAC have campaigned for a ban since last year, when it was revealed that research by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) suggested that the bars could be responsible for 35 deaths a year.

In April the Minister for Road Safety, Steven Norris argued in the Commons that most cars fitted with them have been approved by European construction and use legislation. He said: "Legislation would fail to prevent the use of bull bars on many vehicles, because the more popular vehicles have been type approved with their optional bolt-on bull bars fitted at the time of their European-type approval."

But Neil Kinnock, the European Commissioner for Transport, has suggested that it would be possible for Britain to ban the bars. In a speech to road safety experts, he referred to an EC directive which states that a member state may ban temporarily any vehicle or component that poses a risk to road safety, even if it has been approved at European level. He said there were no obstacles to member states individually banning the bars.

With Mr Major now taking an interest, after it was pointed out to him that child deaths on the road had increased dramatically in the last quarter of 1994, Dr Mawhinney may be forced to examine the feasibility of a ban.

Edmund King, RAC campaigns manager said: "These bull bars are killing children. It's a simple as that. If there's a will, there's a way. The politicians should get them banned."

The Independent on Sunday has received evidence from scores of people who have been in accidents involving vehicles with bull bars. Some have suggested that relatives killed or seriously injured would not have been so badly hurt if the other vehicle had not been fitted with bars. Many have been in crashes in which their car was written off but the other one, fitted with bull bars, was relatively undamaged.

nThe Independent on Sunday will be passing this evidence on to the TRL and would like to hear of any other incidents.