The U.S. government auto safety guidelines mandate that bumpers of various makes of automobiles match up fairly well. The federal standard requires a safety zone 16 to 20 inches off the ground. When two cars collide, the bumpers have a chance of engaging so forces are typically absorbed through the crumple zones of the bumpers. This reduces the severity of head and neck injuries, broken bones, whiplash and more. However, these same laws exempt SUVs, pickup trucks, and most vans and mini vans from bumper height restrictions. These vehicles typically have much higher bumpers, or in the case of the Toyota RAV4, no bumper at all.
When an auto with a lower bumper collides with a truck or van with a much higher bumper, the consequences are often catastrophic for vehicle and passenger alike. The higher bumper on many taller vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, hits a typical passenger car above the car’s bumper line and crumple zone, exerting its force into weaker portions of the smaller vehicle and inflicting greater damage. Injuries that in other crashes might have been minor or cushioned through the proper functioning of crumple zones are now enhanced: paraplegia, severe back and neck injuries, compound fractures, and more, are all too common. To address this, many SUVs–especially car-based models–are being designed with lower bumpers.
Automakers recently announced plans to design SUVs and pickup trucks in ways that will make them less dangerous to occupants of passenger vehicles. SUVs and pickup trucks currently account for one-half of the new vehicles sold in the United States, and while many auto makers have plans to build these vehicles with lower bumpers in the future, this does not remove the millions of vehicles that already have high bumpers from our roads.
Consult a Legal Expert
Catastrophic accidents resulting from mismatched bumpers take place every day, and the effects of these accidents often last a lifetime. When an injured person suspects their injuries resulted from mismatched bumpers, they need to contact a legal expert familiar with crashworthiness law in order to protect their rights to recover damages. An injured person may be eligible to recover financial compensation including medical costs, lost wages, future lost wages, disability, pain and suffering and more. A competent legal expert can advise you of all of your legal and medical options.