speaking4baby

Bumpers!

In Uncategorized on August 21, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Nothing whatsoever to do with birth and babies but I have something to say for which a blog is the perfect place!

Bumpers!

Yes, those invisibly color-coordinated bits of cars back and front that are expected to protect passengers (and cars) in rear- and front-end crashes.

What the hell happened?!!!

When I learned to drive, umpteen decades ago, bumpers were big, black, rubbery-looking things that could withstand a fair amount of impact without damage to the car. On a visit back home to England I remember my cousin and her daughter laughing as they squeezed the car into a tight spot, tapping the bumper behind them in the act. Immediately, cousin and daughter laughed and announced in unison “Bumpers are for bumping!”

Today, lightly tapping the part of a car laughably called a bumper will cost you at the very least a couple of hundred to fix the paint, likely points on your record, and possibly, if the tap was less than light, a couple thou to fix the dent. Dent? What happened to “bumper”?!!! Oh, and not to mention the possibility of an additional claim for whiplash! So much for protecting car and passengers!

MAZDA front-small

My previous car, the Mazda 323 I owned for 15 of its 16 years, had solid-looking black bumpers. They had survived one being knocked off kilter by a car skidding across black ice on a Vancouver corner (just had to pop it back on to its mounts—no harm done), countless minor bumps and scrapes over years of driving and parking–mine and others, protected me from possible whiplash injuries in a couple of fender-benders—and never once required dent removal or painting. Actually, I thought they made my little car look sturdy, a little more macho, and trustworthy, living up to the AAA inspector’s description of the car as “bullet-proof”—figuratively speaking, of course.

MAZDA rear-small

So what happened to bumpers that work—that do the job they were originally designed to do? Was it just valuing cosmetic appeal over safety that made them disappear? Another way to make money off the hapless consumer? Despite the matching paint, do they do as good a job of protecting car and passengers? Did they make the rules more lax and begin to rely instead on airbags?

I simply don’t understand. All the slick, uniformly painted cars on the road today (mine included) just don’t compare to a car with great, chunky, reassuringly black bumpers. Who do I have to talk to to bring them back?

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  1. I thought I was the only person who was indignant at the passing of the bumper. What were they thinking?! I live in the city and have to parallel park alot and my bumper is trashed. A nice solid bumper would have saved the fender. Bring back the bumper!!

    • Hi Sally,

      Thank you for visiting my blog, and for validating my feelings about bumpers! I was wishing there was some drivers’ blog or cars blog that talked about this, but haven’t found anything to date (like I have nothing else to do!) So happy to find another person who feels the same way–us against the car manufacturers and regulators!!

      Claire

    • They were thinking in terms of physics and safety, not in terms of appearance or even the cost of minor repairs. Engineers are actually the good guys in this story. See my follow-up with Claire.

  2. Actually, the new bumpers are the result of consumer activism and they are proven to protect you and the passengers in your car. Bumpers – the old fashioned ones that you miss were in fact designed to save the car. But in so doing, they transferred all of the energy of even a small fender-bender into the car’s occupants. These benders (what we call them so that we remember they are neither bumpers nor fenders) are made to crumple, absorbing the energy and saving the passenger. Think about, which would you pay for after an accident, the cost of auto repairs or the cost of doctors, chiropractors, pharmaceuticals and so forth? Consider the accident I just had. My little Honda crumpled like a soda-can but it protected me. I agree, the absence of bumpers is annoying. . But any inconvenience or repair costs are a very, very small price to pay.

  3. regionale-auskunft.com

    Great info. Lucky me I came across your website by accident (stumbleupon).
    I have saved it for later!

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