Crash Tests Produce Costly Results

Car crash
CBS/The Early Show
The crash was simple — cars bumping into each other at six miles per hour or less.

But the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is out with its latest crash test results — and has found that the 11 luxury sedans it tested were all bad at absorbing the energy in slow-speed collisions, resulting in thousands of dollars of damage.

On Thursday's The Early Show, consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen reported on the results of this year's bumper tests.

According to Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute, the tests are not geared to test safety necessarily but more to gauge damage prevention.

"In these tests, what we're looking for isn't so much safety," he said. "What we're looking for is how well a car prevents damage to itself in those everyday fender-benders that you see out on the highway."

For these safety tests, the luxury vehicles are run through four crashes to the front, rear and corners of the car.

The Insurance Institute said that the Infiniti G35 was the worst performer. The collisions during this test led to a repair bill of nearly $14,000. Lund said this was far too much damage.

"These are very low-speed events where there shouldn't have (been) much damage," he said.

The best performer, the Saab 9-3, will still put a major dent in the pockets of owners should there be a fender-bender. After the four tests, the total damage was more than $5,000.

The problem, according to the Insurance Institute, is that bumpers are failing to absorb energy during a collision.

"Bumpers are supposed to do the bumping," Lund said. "If there is any damage, then you want to see the damage limited to that. In this case, the bumper didn't do anything, it was virtually undamaged."

Lund believes better parts would solve the problem. "These fender-benders are occurring every day out there," he said, "so we need to have better bumpers on these cars to protect the expensive parts."