POLICE have warned ignorance is no excuse as debate rages over controversial bullbar laws being enforced across the region.
In mid-July, The Leader revealed highway patrol officers had launched a blitz on deadly and dangerous bullbars that don’t comply with the legislation.
Since the operation commenced, irate and unsuspecting motorists have been contacting police, The Leader and local MPs over the contentious rules, which have been in place since 2003.
Despite the fierce debate and criticism, the laws will continue to be enforced.
“In most cases we’ve been issuing defect notices, not fines,” Western Region highway patrol boss Inspector Jeff Boon said yesterday.
“Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
“Whether it is lights or a bullbar, the onus is completely on the operator of the vehicle to ensure it is compliant.”
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall took the issue to the floor of NSW parliament this week and has already briefed both the roads and fair trading ministers, maintaining “common sense must prevail”.
“By and large people are trying to do the right thing – they are trying to protect their vehicles and their loves ones, yet they are being penalised,” he said.
Mr Marshall said many of his constituents had been issued with defect notices for bullbars that had been factory-fitted or fitted by accredited smash repairers but they did not comply with Australian standards.
“They are incurring expenses of sometimes in excess of $4000 to replace those bullbars with one that is compliant with the rules,” he said.
Police say the laws are about safety because the illegal fronts are dangerous for passengers as well as oncoming traffic, pedestrians and animals.
The five-poster bullbars have been illegal for 11 years and drivers must ensure the bars don’t have sharp edges and slope back towards the car.
Inspector Boon said backyard manufacturers were the problem and drivers needed to remember Queensland had different rules because the state didn’t sign up to Australian standards.
He said it was “very much a case of buyer beware”.
“Most of the bars are compliant; it’s just a small number that are not,” he said.
“People should remember if it looks like it belongs on a truck, then it wouldn’t be legal on your car or your ute.”
Police said they will continue to work with Transport NSW to address the issues.