Battle of the Bumpers

Automakers and insurers clash on crash standards

Simplicity is a virtue shared by few government regulations. Yet the concept of crash standards for car bumpers has seemed like sweet reason itself. If sheet metal crumples on impact, why not require automakers to build tougher bumpers? That was the thinking behind Congress's directing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 1972 to order stronger bumpers on U.S. cars. Now the NHTSA wonders whether its standards are too costly to manufacturers and car owners and is mulling whether to roll them back. This has set consumer and insurance groups to howling while Detroit is...

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