Nudge bars - pedestrian battering rams

21:26, May 08 2013

If car designers from the big auto manufacturers visited New Zealand they would be appalled to see large numbers of SUVs and utes plying our city streets with bull bars hanging off the front of them. Any designer knows how difficult it is to meet modern European and American crash safety standards, and increasingly cars are designed to reduce the injuries caused by impacts with pedestrians. The frontal design must be rounded and smooth and the bonnet must have a crush zone to mitigate the risk of head injuries.

Here in New Zealand, though, we ignore those advances and happily apply protruding metal bars to the front of vehicles that result in horrific injuries to humans. Apart from making the rounded areas of a car redundant, these bars are capable of shattering long bones or, worse, even tearing limbs off. Essentially these are nothing more than pedestrian battering rams.

I have no idea why folk pay good money for bull or nudge bars. Are they designed for those drivers who are so incompetent behind the wheel that they know in advance they will be taking out pedestrians?

Maybe the motivation comes from the lessons we've learnt from our rugby heroes. That is, aggression, bulk and intimidation make for a winning formula. Or perhaps the owners are worried that a flying child's tricycle or skateboard might scratch the paint on their shiny bumper? Surely they're not for 'roos, given their rarity in New Zealand.

Why do we never see these abominations fitted to the front of small cars or sports cars? Can you imagine the ribbing drivers would get if they had chromed "pedestrian bars" mounted to the front of their Astons or Porsches?

Given the Kiwi fondness for tailgating and crashing into the back of one another, surely it would make more sense to have the rear of their cars protected by big steel bars, or pads?

According to LTSA regulations many of these bars should be illegal. Why are we still seeing thousands of them on our roads then?

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