Steel and aluminium bumper guards fitted to vehicles (car, 4WD, truck or bus) are a design feature identified as significantly exacerbating the injury risk to pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle occupants alike. Their addition to the front of vehicles is seen as increasing a vehicle's frontal stiffness and aggressiveness. A common feature is the use of bumper guards on four wheel drive vehicles and also typically on the front of heavy vehicles. These designs because of their high stiffness, unyielding characteristics (not energy absorbing) and small contact areas are the total antitheses of designs aimed at reducing injury risk particularly to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians. The outcomes in terms of severe and fatal injury risk are clear, undeniable and known.
Considering the case of the urban environs, presently bumper guards only provide a degree of protection to vehicle body damage and not occupant protection. Thus in these situations, one group of road users (the bumper guard owners) jeopardise the safety of other road users solely for convenience, and minimising parking type damage to their vehicles. bumper guards also have a long tradition of usage by people travelling in rural Australia. The main argument for fitting a bumper guard to a vehicle presented by vehicle owners and bumper guard manufacturers is to protect the vehicle against costly damage and in particular immobilisation via radiator damage in isolated remote areas of Australia in collisions with kangaroos or other stray animals such as sheep or cattle or any other object such as a small shrub or small tree.
Adding further to the political debate, car manufacturers have argued that fitting a bumper guard to a car or 4WD equipped with airbags will somehow effect the firing of the airbags in frontal crashes and hence have indicated that fitment of such bumper guard's will void their warranty. Vehicles with airbags have crash sensors that ensure airbags inflate at the right time to protect the occupants, and to ensure airbags are not activated in minor impacts. This has further affected aftermarket manufacturers of bumper guard's to the extent that a design standard has been developed to address this issue.