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The exemption period for non-compliant bull bars in NSW ends in September – is your bull bar safe? Here’s everything you need to know about NSW bull bar laws.
Bull bars (or bulbars) might be one of the most common accessories fitted to a 4×4 (after all-terrain tyres) but not all are created equal. Indeed, some even break the law.
And through no fault of the maker or the buyer. See, Australian Standard AS 4876.1-2002 Motor Vehicle Frontal Protection Systems only provided a general guide to bolt-on vehicle frontal protection systems (bull bars), indeed, it only contained diagrams. This meant bull bar makers could be caught out via poor interpretation of the ‘drawings’.
To that end, the government issued an exemption in 2014 and provided updates to the AS 4876 to ensure all new bull bars were designed and fitted correctly, and so that owners of current bull bars could have it checked to ensure it complies. But that exemption ends in September. This means, if your vehicle’s bull bar isn’t compliant then your vehicle could be defected. Here’s what you need to know.
Profile and Edges
Ideally, a bull bar must be turned back towards the vehicle to avoid any risk of “hooking or grazing” and the top and bottom ends of all vertical members must curve rearwards. If it does project forwards, then it can’t project more than 75mm or a maximum of nine degrees from the front its mounting point on the vehicle. And, where the bull bar has replaced the front bumper bar (the ends must go partially around the side of the vehicle), the upper bar can’t project more than 100mm from the supporting bar (member). The bull bar must be manufactured from tubular sections or flat sections with chamfered edges and forward-facing edges that have a radius of at least 5mm. There must be no open frames in the bull bar.
The shape of your bull bar must not have stepped member or, if it does, then the step changes must be achieved using tubular sections. Where members intersect beyond the tops and sides, they can’t project more than 50mm. Any brackets or other components must be fitted rearward of the front face of the bull bar. Anything that is mounted to a bracket, like a set of lights, must be blunt to minimise risk of injury to vulnerable road users.
Increased vehicle width
The bull bar can’t project beyond the sides of the vehicle increasing its overall width beyond its side mirrors. And, if you don’t have side mirrors, hmmm, then the bull bar can’t project more than 150mm beyond the side of the vehicle but must be less than 2.5 metres of total width.
Obscured lights and numberplate
Bull bars are usually designed and fitted so that it fits around the front light clusters. If any of your vehicle lights are obscured, like indicators, then provision must be made in the bull bar for additional lights to be fitted. And the same goes with your number plate. The bull bar shouldn’t obscure your number plate, allowing sufficient room around it, and if it does then provision needs to be made for mounting it on the bull bar. In all, the numberplate needs to be visible from 20 metres away within a 45-degree arc of the numberplate either side of the vehicle.
Forward view of the road and ground clearance
In the case your bull bar comes up above your bonnet you must still have an unobstructed view of the surface of the road 11m in front of you while sitting in a normal driving position. And, while this final fact is only relevant to those fitting a bull bar to a sedan, if your bull bar protrudes below your vehicle you must have more than 100mm of clearance from the ground.
In the end, make sure your bull bar is compatible with the vehicle it is fitted to, and that it’s fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
For more information about the rules, visit the Transport NSW website at https://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/downloads/bull-bar-tolerances.pdf