1974-02-01

Occupant Safety and Damageability Considerations Related to the 1974 Automobile Bumpers 740989

This paper reports on research which examined the effectiveness of 1974 automobile bumpers in terms of occupant safety and automobile damageability. Static and dynamic tests were performed by attaching a height measuring device on the front and rear bumpers of 1974 domestic automobiles. The static test results showed effective bumper height match. The dynamic test results showed that 21% of bumpers could mismatch when the rear (colliding) vehicle is pitched due to braking and 77% of bumpers could mismatch when both vehicles are pitched due to braking.Occupant safety is discussed in terms of both the positive and negative effects of the new bumpers for all collision speeds. The effect on override/underride collision frequency and passive restraint (air bag) system activation is examined. The tradeoffs of decreased frequency of damage to vehicles and increased costs to replace the new bumpers when they are damaged in high speed collisions are discussed.Conclusions are that any resultant gain in occupant safety as a result of the new bumpers is debatable and that there are no significant overall economic gains at this time. In addition, existing regulations that will become operative in the near future do not appear to provide an effective solution because of the multiplicity of factors which are involved.

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