The Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways has banned fitting bullbars on vehicles in India and has authorised states to take strict action against their illegal fitment. The government has declared the use of bullbars as a contravention of Section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
While the government notification was brief, it was very clear that the move was to lessen the risk of injury to pedestrians and vehicle occupants, alike, in the event of an impact.
For a long time, vehicles in India have been accessorised with bullbars – often available at the point of sale, itself. While some feel the accessory adds to the look of their vehicles, others are of the opinion that bullbars and crash guards can help protect their vehicle’s body in low-impact scenarios. However, the facts state that these extraneous parts can actually reduce the effectiveness of safety systems built into the car’s structure. This is because bullbars are typically fixed to the vehicle’s body structure at two points; in an impact, the crash energy is transmitted directly to these two points rather than being dispersed through the car's crumple zone. Furthermore, bullbars can also hamper the functioning and timely deployment of the airbags in crashes.
Pedestrian safety is also hugely compromised by bullbars. Cars are, at stock, designed to meet pedestrian safety standards. The fitment of bullbars, however, actually offsets the benefits of a pedestrian-friendly front-end design, as mandated by latest vehicle norms. The rigid bullbars have proved lethal in many car-to-human accidents.
Interestingly, several countries such as Australia do allow the fitment of bullbars – which is only subject to the accessory meeting their well-laid-out safety norms.