1984-02-01

Bumper Performance Levels and Insurance Loss Experience 840224

Since the 1973 model year minimum levels of new car bumper performance have been specified by federal standards. Beginning with the 1974 model year, the safety bumper standard required that bumpers protect safety related equipment in 5 mph front-and rear-into-barrier tests. This standard was superceded in the 1979 model year by the no-damage standard which restricted dollar damage in the same tests. For 1983 and later models the barrier test speed requirements of the no-damage standard were reduced to 2.5 mph.
There is convincing evidence from crash tests and insurance data from real world crashes that the federal 5 mph bumper standards substantially reduced much of the unnecessary damage that was occurring in low speed crashes because the performance of pre-standard bumpers was so poor. There is a real danger that this progress will be eroded, however, due to the weakening of the no-damage standard. The adoption of inferior bumpers by Honda on their 1983 models has already produced substantial increases in the collision coverage insurance losses for these cars.

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