From The January 1975 Road & Track: (5 mph) Impact Bumpers – Are They Really Saving Money?


(first posted 10/27/2016)     One of the all-time most controversial new regulations during that regulation-happy period of the 70s was the 5 mile bumper. A response to rapidly increasing repair costs due to the extravagant styling and resulting minimal bumper protection of so many cars during the 60s, the 5 mile bumper was implemented for MY 1974, and required that no damage to the car’s lights, safety equipment and engine in angled 5mph impacts. For  MY 1979, the standards were raised further, to zero-damage. Controversially, the standards were lowered in 1982 to 2.5 mph, where they still stand, similar to the international standard.

In the January 1975 issue, R&T took on the question as to whether they were worth it. There have been numerous arguments pro and con, but it’s not surprising which side R&T took.


Many consumer groups and insurance companies decried the loss of the 5 mile bumper, whose aesthetics would eventually have become quite unnoticeable within the soft facades of newer cars. But with global standards at 4kmh (2.5 mph) and pedestrian protections, a more standardized format certainly makes more sense. Now if only one global standard would be adopted for all aspects of safety, lighting, etc…