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Tuesday, 27 November, 2001, 12:07 GMT
Bull bars banned from next year
Mitsubishi Shogun with bull bars
Japanese manufacturers have already agreed deal
Bull bars are to be banned from all new cars sold within the European Union from 1 January.

A voluntary agreement with the car industry approved by EU governments on Monday also means all new cars must be fitted daytime lights by the beginning of 2002, and with anti-skid ABS braking systems and daytime lights by 2003.

Further changes to car front design are to be introduced by 2005, and a comprehensive set of changes by 2010.

Having favoured legislation last June, this change of position... represents a complete cave-in to the intensive lobby of the car industry

Safety campaigner Jeanne Breen
Bull bars have been targeted by road safety pressure groups because they increase the injuries caused to pedestrians involved in road accidents.

Campaigners say children in particular are put at risk if they are hit by cars fitted with the bars.

The new code contains nothing to stop car users having bull bars fitted after they had bought the vehicles - although the manufacturers themselves would pledge not to market or supply them as bars.

Crash tests

The European Transport Safety Council said the EU should have stuck to its original plan to introduce legislation to force car-makers to new designs that would have saved many more lives.

The council's executive director Jeanne Breen said the decision put "industrial convenience" ahead of safety.

She added that legislation obliging car fronts to pass four compulsory car-crash tests would have saved 2,000 pedestrian and cyclist lives per year.

Campaigners say the voluntary agreement will save only 500 lives per year.

A UK government official said the voluntary code could be introduced more quickly than legislation, adding: "If it is not honoured, the legislative route is still available."

The European Parliament could yet force governments to think again and drop the voluntary agreement in favour of legislation.

The European Commission still has some negotiations about bull bars to complete - for example with the German car industry - before the voluntary agreement comes fully into force.

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