The work, commissioned by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, has led to the development of test methods and procedures which have been supplied to the EC with the recommendation that they be added to new pedestrian protection measures currently under discussion.
The research was prompted by fears that the growing popularity of four-wheel-drives, which are frequently fitted with crash bars, would lead to a rise in bar-related injuries. Real-life accident data on the performance of bull bars remains limited, but they were branded 'killing accessories' by West Suffolk MP Richard Spring and several major fleets, including DHL, HSS Hire Services, TNT, Marks & Spencer and the RAC banned their use on their vehicles.
Overall it was found steel bars gave a very high risk of causing serious head injuries to children or serious injuries to the abdomen and chest of taller children and adults, even in low speed accidents. Deformable bars, however, performed well, particularly for the child head at speeds up to 40kph.