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IIHS wants federal guidelines for SUV bumpers

December 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Bumpers on cars are regulated by the federal government and are required to match up with other car bumpers to minimize costly damages in collisions. But with SUVs it's a different story. They are exempt from the same rules as cars.The problem is car bumpers and SUV bumpers do not match up or line up in crashes. The result is more damage to the vehicles involved, which is more expensive to repair.

Without bumpers, most vehicles would be in the body shop for repairs more often than not. But with today's SUVs, it is almost as if there is no bumper because in many cases the bumper on an SUV doesn't line up with the bumper on cars.

"There is a federal standard for car bumpers," said Joe Nolan, senior vice president, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "It requires that bumpers be 16 to 20 inches from the ground and be able to withstand a 2.5-mph impact without damage to lights or other safety equipment. SUVs are exempt from this standard."

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, without a standard your vehicle is vulnerable to expensive damage.

"We had almost $10,000 damage when the Toyota Corolla struck the back of the Toyota RAV4," said Nolan. "In another example, we have over $7,000 damage when the Nissan Rogue struck the back of the Nissan Sentra."

And it's not just cars that suffer damage.

"The Rogue didn't come out unscathed," said Nolan. "Because its bumper is mounted so high there's no protection for the radiator, and in our test it broke and all the fluid leaked out."

As a result, the Insurance Institute has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to regulate bumpers on SUVs and pickup trucks the same as cars.

"Damage like this doesn't need to happen," said Nolan. "Some of the SUVs we tested did have bumpers that lined up with cars, and there is no reason they all can't."


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