Implications of Manufacturers’ Bumper Ratings in Low Speed Collision Analysis 2016-01-1473
Evaluation of the severity of low speed motor vehicle crashes has been the subject of significant research for more than 25 years. These crashes typically result in little if any damage to the vehicles involved and therefore the ability to determine the threshold of damage would be very useful in analysis of such cases. One such threshold, which has been used by accident reconstructionists, is the manufacturer’s published bumper rating in compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for vehicle bumpers. The rationale is that if there is any damage to the bumper system of the vehicle in question, the impact must have had a severity greater than the rated bumper speed. This paper examines the FMVSS bumper standards upon which the published bumper ratings are reportedly in compliance, historical low speed testing damage results, and engineering considerations of bumper damage in low speed impacts. The results demonstrate that using manufacturers’ bumper ratings as a threshold of damage for real world low speed impacts, while attractive due to its simplicity, is not supported by the data.