It used to be that most vehicles in the US had 5 MPH bumpers. It’s awfully surprising that you can back one of these vehicles, which are supposed to have a reputation for being tough and rugged, into a pole at 5 MPH and do over two grand in damage. Most people wouldn’t expect that - statistical stability be damned.
When you think of how aggressively people drive SUVs, one would hope that all the soccer moms in Grand Vitaras would get a glance at this information and stop driving like maniacs.
Yep, from approximately 1973 until the late '80s Federal motor vehicle standards required that passenger car bumpers withstand a 5MPH impact with no damage. Trucks were not subject to that standard. As a result, Grandpa’s Grand Marquis or Caprice had big chrome logs slung across the front and rear in order to meet the standard while pickups, Broncos, Jeeps, etc. didn’t need those hefty bumpers.
When custom vans and Stationwagon Usurping Vehicles became popular in the '80s people didn’t know or didn’t care that the government classified them as trucks and therefore exempt from most of the US passenger car safety standards. That led to outrage on the part of folks like my neighbor, who suffered $3000 in damage when his fancy new Chevy Astro conversion van got poked in the corner during a low-speed parking lot fender bender. Meanwhile, the Crown Victoria wagon my parental units drove literally bounced off walls and curbs with impunity.
In the late '80s the bumper standard was lowered to 2.5 MPH across the board as vehicle engineers started to experiment with aerodynamic styling and lighter materials that resulted in better fuel economy. So now, damn near everybody has plastic-covered “impact systems” instead of real bumpers that can take a hit.
Also, note that at least one of the crashes is a frontal offset crash, where the corner of the vehicle contacts the barrier. Frontal-offsets are very controversial in these circles, because they always result in damage. Insurance companies love to point out that the bumper does nothing to protect the car (and by extension, your coconut) from a side or offset collision, while the auto industry points out that the bumpers don’t work on the side because there are no damn bumpers there. Instead of spending money to protect a relatively cheap fender, the automakers leave the fenders “exposed” to some degree and concentrate on making the the cowl, roof, and doors to withstand the kind of impact that can hurt or kill somebody.
PS for those of you outside the US- the guy in the CNN video is Brian O’Neill, the head of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. He’s one of the nattering nabobs of negativity that see the car as an inherently evil device foisted on an unsuspecting public by evil murderers who give not a whit for the general welfare. The fact that he fronts for an insurance company lobbying group is not surprising, since the insurance industry’s entire purpose is to prevent paying claims.