Written by Lloyd Alter
Angie Schmitt calls them “a fashion accessory to convey a sense of aggression.“
For a number of years I have been taking photos of cars and SUVs with big bits of metal mounted on front. I was certain that they were dangerous, but I did not even know what they were even called; in a post about a driver who jumped the sidewalk and maimed five kids, I described them as “an after-market steel thing on front that blocks the shock-absorbing front bumper and probably significantly increased the carnage.”
Eventually I learned that they are called “rock bars” or “bull bars” or “push bars” and they are legal where I live in Ontario, Canada. According to a Transport ministry spokesperson:
“Rock bars, bull bars” and winches are permitted provided that installation of these components does not constitute a safety hazard to vehicle occupants, pedestrians, other vehicles or property as stipulated in Ontario Regulation 611. There should be no exposed sharp edges, loose cables, unrestrained parts, hooks or other potentially injurious components located where pedestrians or other vehicles may come into contact with this hardware.
I thought that was a totally silly answer, given that these things are clearly going to do damage. But I assumed that the Police had them so that they could ram or push other cars as they might be wont to do.
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But now, Angie Schmitt of Streetsblog is on the case, complaining that putting them on police cars is particularly dangerous. Calling them “a fashion accessory to convey a sense of aggression,” she describes how the car companies are marketing them and how police departments love them: