River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Bull Bars

January 2001

No bulls in Tesco's car park

One Saturday afternoon, some time ago, June and I were present when a young girl, probably six or seven years old, was knocked down in Tesco's car park in Stevenage. The child was not conscious and, although it was not definitely established at the time, it was said that she had been killed. Needless to say the reality of the situation is brought home when one is present at such an incident and strong emotions are generated, including anger. I did not witness the impact but it is possible that the driver could have shown more caution by driving more slowly in that situation. Being Saturday there were many pedestrians in the car park, practically no speed was too slow for the conditions. Nevertheless it is doubtful that the speed was very high.

Undoubtedly the child's injuries were made more severe because the vehicle that hit her was an off road type fitted with a bull-bar. Many vehicles of this type have little or no use off road. Similarly, in many instances, the bull-bar is a fashion statement, with the possible exception that the owner takes the view that, in the event of a collision, the other guy will come of worse. Apart from the implied selfishness of such a view, what he may not realise is that he has further stiffened an already stiff structure and further reduced the ability of his vehicle to absorb the impact, thereby increasing the risk of injury to himself as well as the occupants of the other vehicle

Prior to that accident one Member of Parliament had raised the issue in the House in an effort to have bull-bars outlawed and I remember that a Government Minister said at the time, with typical ministerial understatement, something along the lines of the fitting of a rigid steel bar on the front of a vehicle at the height of a child's head can hardly be seen as a contribution to road safety. I wrote to my MP following the accident urging him to support the move and received a reply to the effect that the Government did support the suggestion that, with the exception of instance's where a special justification could be claimed, bull-bars should be outlawed, but that it was necessary to make the rule accepted within Europe as a whole and moves were afoot to achieve this. He confidently predicted that it would become European law within a short space of time. I am still waiting. No-one's fancy or fashion statement is worth the life of a little girl

Ron Watts

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