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Surveys and Statistics on Bumper Damage/Repair

A survey of vehicles brought to five insurance drive-in claims centers in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area was used to examine the types and amounts of vehicle damage sustained in relatively minor front and rear crashes. The sample of 509 vehicles included cars (67 percent), small and midsize sport utility vehicles (SUVs) (23 percent), and minivans (10 percent) of vehicle makes and models that had been evaluated in low-speed crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The mean estimated damage claim amount for cars in collisions with other cars ($820) was considerably lower than those for cars in collisions with SUVs ($1,189), minivans ($1,022), or pickups ($1,298). Of the cars involved in collisions with other vehicles, one-third sustained damage from bumper underride or override, and underride/override was associated with substantially higher mean estimated damage claim amounts. Underride/override was more common among cars sustaining front damage (39 percent) than among cars with rear damage (26 percent). Car-to-SUV crashes were particularly problematic; 67 percent of cars in these crashes sustained underride/override damage, and mean estimated claim amounts were 72 percent higher when this occurred. Underride/override occurred in about one-fifth of car-to-car crashes, usually after the bumpers initially engaged. Current low-speed vehicle crash tests do not capture the effects of underride or override, so these tests do not adequately measure the full extent of damage occurring in many real-world crashes, even for vehicles with equal bumper heights. Better low-speed crash tests to evaluate bumper performance and the implementation of meaningful federal bumper standards for SUVs, pickups, and vans, as well as cars, are needed to reduce the considerable damage costs resulting from underride and override.


Seven hundred owners of vehicles registered in Michigan and Texas were surveyed about their awareness of bumper performance data, how these data might affect future purchase decisions, and their opinions about current federal bumper regulations. A majority of respondents (61 percent) were aware of the availability of bumper performance data, and most who were aware said they had seen or heard this information on television (58 percent), followed by magazines (30 percent) and newspapers (27 percent). When purchasing their current vehicles, 17 percent considered bumper strength. When shopping for their next vehicles, most respondents said they would probably (37 percent) or definitely (20 percent) purchase vehicles with better bumpers over those with poorer bumpers. Seventy-seven percent of respondents expressed support for returning the bumper standard to 5 mph from the current 2.5 mph standard. When asked if the bumper standard should apply to vehicle types other than cars, 88 percent said it should. Overall, little difference was noted among respondents who recently had been in collisions with minor front or rear damage compared with those who had not.


The National Safety Council (2002) estimates that more than 20 million passenger vehicles in the United States are involved in crashes each year. The exact number of vehicles involved in low-speed property-damage-only crashes is not known because many of these crashes are not reported to police or insurers. Nevertheless, data from U.S. automobile insurers indicate that the over-whelming majority of crashes producing vehicle damage occur at relatively low speeds. Each year more than 8 percent of recent model passenger vehicles have crash damage leading to insurance claims, with an average repair cost per claim of more than $3,000. The median damage amount is about $2,000, and the most common amount is in the $600 to $700 range. Furthermore, about 80 percent of the damage claims have no associated injury claims ( Highway Loss Data Institute, 2003a , 2003b ). These data show that low-speed crash damage constitutes a large portion of the total costs to U.S. society for repairing crashed passenger vehicles.


These costs are huge, and can be avoided by having your bumpers repaired and not replaced.




Denver, Colorado