- Bumper (automobile)
An automobile's bumper is the front-most or rear-most part, ostensibly designed to allow the car to sustain an impact without damage to the vehicle's frame or safety systems, but it will not withstand damage to high speed impacts. While bumpers were originally constructed of heavy steel and held clear from the bodywork, they have evolved into light-weight structures of thermo-plastic or painted light metal — leaving them susceptible to damage from even light contact.
In 1973 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the first US bumper standards, requiring to be capable of sustaining a 5 mile-per-hour (MPH) frontal crash and a 2.5 MPH rear crash without damage to safety systems. In 1974, the standard for rear crashes was raised to 5 MPH. Phase I of the standard was first applied to model 1979 vehicles. In Phase II, beginning with 1980 models, the bumper itself could sustain only superficial damage in a 5 MPH crash.cite web
title = Consumer Bumper Quality Disclosure Bill
publisher = SmartMotorist.com
url = http://www.smartmotorist.com/car-accessories-fuel-and-maintenance/consumer-bumper-quality.html] . Initially, cars were mostly equipped with unsophisticated chunky protrusions of metal and plastic to achieve this standard in a cost-effective manner. [cite book | author=James M. Flammang and the auto editors of Consumer Guide | title=Cars of the Sensational '70s: A Decade of Changing Tastes and New Directions| publisher= Publications International, Inc. | year=2000 | id=ISBN 0-7853-2980-3] Contemporary criticism considered them a stylistic detraction, and panned the additional weight of these bumpers on the already large 1970s American automobile.
Under pressure from automakers, NHTSA revised the rules in 1982, lowering the front and rear protection standard to 2.5 MPH, and dropping the Phase II requirement altogether. At that time, NHTSA promised to conduct research and testing to provide consumers with accurate information on the quality of new car bumpers. NHTSA has not met this commitment.
Consumers Unionfiled a 1986 petition requesting the restoration of the Phase II standard and disclosure of bumper strength information. In 1990, NHTSA rejected that petition.
By the late 1980s the design of bumpers evolved into largely hidden elements concealed by a single thermoplastic, painted fascia, again establishing itself as a stylistic rather than genuinely protective element. Protection dropped significantly and repair costs rose.
* 1983 Horizon with No-Damage 5 MPH bumpers $ 287
* 1983 Horizon with weaker bumpers $ 918
* 1990 Horizon $ 1,476
In 2008, Canada announced it would harmonize its bumper standards with US standards, cite web
title = Canada to harmonize bumper standard with U.S., Europe
publisher = Canadian Driver, April 2, 2008
url = http://www.canadiandriver.com/thenews/2008/04/02/canada-to-harmonize-bumper-standard-with-us-europe.htm] , thereby allowing Canadians to more easily import US vehicles. The Canadian standard had required impact resistance up to 10km/hr or 6mph.
In many jurisdictions, bumpers are legally required on all vehicles for safety reasons. The height and placement of bumpers may be legally specified as well, to ensure that when vehicles of different heights are in an accident, that the smaller vehicle will not slide under the larger vehicle.
Many cars now come with "smart bumpers" that can sense the distance to nearby cars during parking and warn of imminent collision.
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