Frontal Protection Systems: What Truck Drivers In South Australia Need To know

Truck drivers in South Australia must contend with several hazards, but collisions with wild animals like kangaroos are a surprisingly common problem. In 2013, one SA insurer reported a 26 percent increase in animal collisions compared to the previous year. As such, truck drivers may want to consider a frontal protection system for their vehicles, but it's important to make sure these parts are compliant with state law. Find out why you may need one of these systems, and learn more about the restrictions that apply in South Australia.

The risk

A collision with an animal like a kangaroo is potentially costly and dangerous. Without any form of protection system on the front of the truck, these large animals can smash through windscreens, injuring and even killing the vehicle's occupants. 

With more than 50 million kangaroos in Australia, state governments now arrange regular animal culls to curb the problem, but this doesn't halt the number of crashes in certain parts of the country. In SA, certain rural hotspots like Port Augusta and Mount Gambier see the highest number of collisions. If you live in these (or other) areas, a frontal protection system for your truck could save your life.

How frontal protection systems work

Frontal protection systems – or bull-bars – are rigid structures (normally made from metal) that you can fit to the front of your truck. These accessories normally bolt directly onto the frame of your vehicle. Although some truck owners install them at home. Nonetheless, you'll normally need a mechanic to do the work for you.

Bull-bars protect the front of the vehicle from impact damage. If you hit a kangaroo, the protection system forces the animal away from the vehicle, protecting delicate parts like the radiator and cooling system. The deflection also stops the animal breaking through the windshield.

The RACV does not discourage bull-bars for people who mostly drive on rural roads. Nonetheless, the RACV strongly recommends that owners arrange for a professional to install these systems. Tests show that bull-bars can interfere with the triggering characteristics of an airbag, so you should always arrange for a professional to install these systems.

South Australian legal requirements

The South Australian state government now insists that frontal protection systems fitted to trucks that weigh less than 3.5 tonnes must comply with the Australian Standard. There are no restrictions to systems fitted to trucks manufactured before 1 July 2013.

Design and installation rules mean that:

  • The profile of the protection system should follow that of the vehicle in all views.
  • The protection system must not extend excessively beyond the truck's side profile.
  • You must make sure you securely and firmly mount and support the system.
  • The system cannot have any sharp edges, corners or protrusions.
  • The system cannot increase the vehicle's overall width.

You must also make sure that the system does not interfere with the truck's airbag system. The protection system must carry the manufacturer's certification to confirm this.

Failure to comply with these rules will cause a breach of the Road Traffic Act. The authorities can issue you with a Court summons for an illegal protection system. Ultimately, you could face a driving penalty or a fee. You will also have to remove or modify the system. Don't assume the cops won't catch you, either. The police in states like New South Wales sometimes actively pursue and take action against drivers who fit illegal systems to their trucks. South Australian police can take similar steps against offenders.

A frontal protection system could help you protect your truck and your family from an animal collision. Talk to your local truck parts supplier, such as Moore Truck Parts, about the right sort of system for your vehicle.