In 2017, Central government had released a notification that banned the use of bull bars and crash guards on vehicles. The Madras High Court recently upheld central government’s decision while disposing two public interest litigation (PIL) that insisted on effective implementation of the ban. The bench of chief justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu said that that Union Road Trasnsport and Highway Ministry only issued this notification in interest of public. The bench also mentioned that it would not normally intervene in such notifications issued in public interest by government until they were objectionable or absurd.
Madras High Court also added that the drivers of vehicles that have crash guards and bull bars installed behave like bullies on the road, especially on state and national highways. The court also pointed out that installation of a bullbar is a violation of Section 52 of the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988. This section restricts owners from making alterations in vehicles in variation to the specifications mentioned in the RC.
Representing one of the petitioners, Advocate Ajay Francis argued in the court that installing an aftermarket bullbar or crash guard increases the length of the vehicle and these also affect the safety of the motorists negatively. To this senior advocate R. L. Sundaresan, who appeared for crash guard and bull bar manufacturers said that fitting these only provides additional safety.
Why are Bull bars not safe
Aftermarket Bull bars and crash guards are one of the most commonly seen modification on cars in India. Many install these to enhance the overall look of their car or SUV and also for protection of their bumpers in case of a minor accident. Actually, these bull bars affect the safety of the occupants and also other road users and that is why these were banned by the government.
As per the current safety norms, even the base model of car now comes with airbag. The metal Bullbar or crash guard that are installed on a car or an SUV actually affect the functioning of this safety feature. The airbag is deployed when the sensor in the front gets triggered in case of an accident. This function gets affected to piece of metal that is placed in front of the plastic bumper.
Bullbars and crash guards are installed on SUVs that do extreme off-roading. In that case, bull bar has many other advantages. These vehicles are specifically designed for off-roading and cannot be driven on road legally. Bullbars on car actually do more harm than good. It would only protect the body of the car in case of a minor accident. These metal bars are mounted on the chassis of the car and in case of a major accident, it directly transmits the impact to the chassis and damaging the vehicles. The natural crumple zone of the car cannot perform due to the bull bar. These bull bars are heavy and also affect the handling character of the car or SUV. In case of an accident, the metal bull bars would also cause damage to a pedestrian or a road user than a car without bull bar.