A new study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety seems to indicate that redesigned SUV and truck bumpers - lowered to better match up with cars and fitted with energy absorbing devices - can help save lives in collisions.

When a passenger car and SUV meet in a head-on collision, the death rate dropped by 18-21% when the SUV was fitted with the redesigned bumpers. When SUVs hit the side of cars - the much-feared t-bone collision - the death rate dropped by nearly 50%. For pickup trucks fitted with the same type of bumpers, a reduction in the fatality rate was also observed, but the improvement was much smaller. No explanation was given for this discrepancy.

Of note is the fact that the redesigned bumpers did virtually nothing to decrease the death rate of unbelted passengers. One is probably safe in assuming that mismatched bumper heights are apparently of little importance when the passengers are ejected from the vehicle.


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