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Bumper Repairs and Headlight Restoration

Avoid bumper repairs in the first place with driving awareness.

Distracted driving

Concern is mounting about the effects of phone use and texting while driving.

Using a cellphone while driving increases crash risk. A 2014 IIHS study looking at trips made by 105 drivers during one year found the risk of a crash or near crash was 17 percent higher when the driver was interacting with a cellphone. Much of the increase was attributable to reaching for, answering or dialing a cellphone. Those things tripled the risk, while talking on or listening to a cellphone wasn’t associated with an increased rate of crashes or near crashes.

Bans on hand-held phone use and texting are increasingly common, but it is not clear that they reduce crashes. This is the case even though IIHS research has documented that bans on hand-held phone use reduce overall phone use. There is a disconnect between estimated crashes due to cellphone use and real-world crash trends, which indicate that crashes have been declining in recent years, even as driver phone use has increased.

Cellphones and texting aren’t the only things that can distract drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any activity that could divert attention from the primary task of driving. Besides using electronic gadgets, distractions also can include adjusting a radio, eating and drinking, reading, grooming, and interacting with passengers.


They're supposed to limit damage in minor collisions, but many don't.

Fender benders are expensive. Bills to repair crash damage can total thousands of dollars, and related insurance claims costs add up, too. That's why it's important to equip passenger vehicles with bumpers that effectively reduce damage in low-speed collisions. Better bumpers mean less out-of-pocket costs for consumers and lower insurance costs, plus they spare drivers the aggravation of dealing with repairs.

Bad bumpers are the norm. Many bumpers aren't high enough or tall enough to take the hit in low-speed crashes between SUVs, pickups or other cars. Additionally, many bumpers aren't wide enough to protect the corners of the vehicle. Even when bumpers line up with those on other vehicles reasonably well, many don't stay engaged with the other bumpers or can't absorb the energy of even a minor bump. This means expensive vehicle body parts and lights sustain most of the damage.

Bumpers on pickups, SUVs and vans are exempt from minimum federal performance requirements. Since the 1970s, rules for cars specify a zone for bumper heights and limit the amount of damage that's allowed beyond a bumper system in a low-speed crash. Because the rules don't apply to pickups, SUVs or vans, their higher-riding bumpers often don't match up with those on cars. Crash energy may bypass the bumpers to damage vehicle bodies and lights.

What are the good attributes of a good bumper system?

Geometry, stability and energy absorption. Bumpers on colliding vehicles should line up geometrically so that they engage each other during a low-speed crash to absorb crash energy. The bumpers should overlap each other enough to account for variations in ride height and preimpact braking, which can lower the front end or raise the rear end of a vehicle just before impact. Bumpers should stay engaged with the other bumpers in collisions instead of overriding or underriding them, which often results in damage to vehicle grilles, headlights, hoods, fenders and trunks. Bumpers also should have sufficient energy-absorbing capabilities to confine damage to the bumper system itself.   

Beyond these basic attributes, good bumpers extend to the corners of vehicles to protect headlamps and fenders. They're outset somewhat from the sheet metal parts they're intended to protect, leaving space for energy absorption. Bumpers also should be designed so they'll be relatively inexpensive to repair or replace after low-speed collisions.


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