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  • Jacked up vehicles - bumper height

    This is a California state related question.

    I commuted 3 to 4 hrs daily for 20yrs in the SF area, and in doing so I saw a lot. I retired and don't miss commuter traffic one bit.

    That said, I remember two accidents in particular, one of which occurred just 100 yds in front of me in 2002 on south bound 680. A jacked-up 4x4 rear-ended a sedan w/multi-occupants literally driving over the vehicle crushing its roof - not fatal but severe. A similar (fatality) accident on 101 south of SJ yrs earlier had traffic at a standstill in both directions - I saw the dust cloud of the occurrence about 1/4-mile in front of me.

    As I drive today, I still see various vehicles raised far beyond what is safe for public roads. A few that I've seen very recently were so egregious that I can't understand why they weren't ticketed by the first officer that saw them (more than 2 feet of daylight from the top of the tire)!

    I'm an ME and a car enthusiast, a trackday/AutoX organizer and participant and a Jim Russell (3-day course) driver. I own a couple Lotii, a trick-72 Elan and a '91 Elan. I do my own wrenching for the most part. There's also an 89 Mitsu hatchback-turbo (my beater that looks like a Colt) and the wife's primo-87 535is. And up until a yr ago, I still owned a very nice 73 Capri V6.

    I like cars and driving open roads!

    Raising the vehicle height compromises handling, maneuverability and stopping. I didn't say that - Newton proved it. If big-rigs, cement trucks and giant dump trucks can maintain bumper heights consistent w/autos, why can't Billy-Bob and his 4x4, and why isn't this safety-law enforced vigorously? Are we not killing enough people to get the attention of the people who are in a position to make a difference (not intended to be sarcastic).

    Why doesn't Nader jump on THIS bandwagon that's far worse than the (lovely) Corvair. Oh yeah. Now, I remember - Nader's a twit (sarcasm intended)!

    I would appreciate the views of some informed professionals on this issue because I've never gotten a straight answer to this question to date - and thank you for taking the time to respond.

  • #2
    Yes these vehicles can become a hazard if raised too high. Some of them are completely ridiculous. The easiest thing to cite for on them is the headlamps. California law requires:

    24400. (a) A motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, shall be:
    (1) Equipped with at least two headlamps, with at least one on
    each side of the front of the vehicle, and, except as to vehicles
    registered prior to January 1, 1930, they shall be located directly
    above or in advance of the front axle of the vehicle. The headlamps
    and every light source in any headlamp unit shall be located at a
    height of not more than 54 inches
    nor less than 22 inches.

    That usually covers most of these type vehicles and I cite them when I see the really "jacked up"ones. You are absolutely right about them being dangerous on city streets....they do not handle well and an ordinary vehicles collision protection is greatly reduced. There are some other vehicle codes regarding body height above frame and such, but the headlamp one is the easiest to spot and enforce.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thank you for taking the time to reply and for the information.

      It's my opinion that 24400 is a law that could use some adjustment.

      A vehicle can be within that law with its headlamps at 54 inches, which puts its bumper in the 44-48 inch range. The bumper height (highest point) of my wife's sedan is 20-inches. That lawful vehicle will drive right over hers in a crash.

      We both know that some of these vehicles are unstable on or off-road, and I'll bet that you see them wheels-up in the median regularly.

      Thank you for citing them, but I wish that the law specified a bumper-height range.



      Originally posted by Fuzz
      California law requires:
      24400. (a) A motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, shall be:
      (1) Equipped with at least two headlamps, with at least one on
      each side of the front of the vehicle, and, except as to vehicles
      registered prior to January 1, 1930, they shall be located directly
      above or in advance of the front axle of the vehicle. The headlamps
      and every light source in any headlamp unit shall be located at a
      height of not more than 54 inches
      nor less than 22 inches.

      That usually covers most of these type vehicles and I cite them when I see the really "jacked up"ones. You are absolutely right about them being dangerous on city streets....they do not handle well and an ordinary vehicles collision protection is greatly reduced. There are some other vehicle codes regarding body height above frame and such, but the headlamp one is the easiest to spot and enforce.

      Comment


      • #4
        Whil I agree with you on the raised/lowered vehicle issue. Unless I misunderstood the 24400, I'd think that rule doesn't really designate where the BUMBER would be, but where say the lights would be on a truck, semi-truck, or sports car where the bumber to lamp clearance is much more or much less. Just a thought.

        Comment


        • #5
          There is rarely more than 10-inches between the headlight and the bumper; so, 24400 "implies" bumper height in my mind.

          While headlight-height can, certainly, be an issue, it isn't my foremost concern. It's annoying to have headlights in my mirrors, but I can deal with that temporary distraction. The bumper-height issue, however, can kill me. The push-bumpers of a cruiser are great. If I ever get rear-ended again, I hope that it's from a cruiser!:-)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by drivermel
            This is a California state related question.

            I commuted 3 to 4 hrs daily for 20yrs in the SF area, and in doing so I saw a lot. I retired and don't miss commuter traffic one bit.

            That said, I remember two accidents in particular, one of which occurred just 100 yds in front of me in 2002 on south bound 680. A jacked-up 4x4 rear-ended a sedan w/multi-occupants literally driving over the vehicle crushing its roof - not fatal but severe. A similar (fatality) accident on 101 south of SJ yrs earlier had traffic at a standstill in both directions - I saw the dust cloud of the occurrence about 1/4-mile in front of me.

            As I drive today, I still see various vehicles raised far beyond what is safe for public roads. A few that I've seen very recently were so egregious that I can't understand why they weren't ticketed by the first officer that saw them (more than 2 feet of daylight from the top of the tire)!

            I'm an ME and a car enthusiast, a trackday/AutoX organizer and participant and a Jim Russell (3-day course) driver. I own a couple Lotii, a trick-72 Elan and a '91 Elan. I do my own wrenching for the most part. There's also an 89 Mitsu hatchback-turbo (my beater that looks like a Colt) and the wife's primo-87 535is. And up until a yr ago, I still owned a very nice 73 Capri V6.

            I like cars and driving open roads!

            Raising the vehicle height compromises handling, maneuverability and stopping. I didn't say that - Newton proved it. If big-rigs, cement trucks and giant dump trucks can maintain bumper heights consistent w/autos, why can't Billy-Bob and his 4x4, and why isn't this safety-law enforced vigorously? Are we not killing enough people to get the attention of the people who are in a position to make a difference (not intended to be sarcastic).

            Why doesn't Nader jump on THIS bandwagon that's far worse than the (lovely) Corvair. Oh yeah. Now, I remember - Nader's a twit (sarcasm intended)!

            I would appreciate the views of some informed professionals on this issue because I've never gotten a straight answer to this question to date - and thank you for taking the time to respond.
            You could also say that "I've seen vehicles that are low beyond what is safe for public roads" as well.
            A "jacked up" vehicle still within legal limits can still run over something as low as a corvette".

            Comment


            • #7
              As I mentioned in the original question, giant big-rigs have bumper-heights that are consistent w/passenger cars, and I don't understand why all vehicles are not regulated to meet this same standard.

              If a car owner chose to modify a vehicle in such a manner that made it unsafe for himself and his passengers, that's one issue, but if that vehicle thereafter, became a menace to others on the road, then that becomes an even more serious situation.

              A standard for consistent bumper-heights would provide the 3500/4000-lb sedan at least a sporting chance in a collision with a 5000-lb truck/suv given the requisite seatbelts and airbags.

              Moreover, a vehicle does not need to be jacked-up so high to achieve necessary ground clearance and be capable in most off-road applications. And as we all know, few of these vehicle actually ever go off-road.

              Doesn't this reasoning make sense, or am I being myopic?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by drivermel
                Doesn't this reasoning make sense, or am I being myopic?
                Making sense and the law are not always the same. Here is some info from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Admin)

                http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/proble...per/Index.html

                3) What are the Federal regulations for bumpers?

                49 CFR Part 581, "The bumper standard," prescribes performance requirements for passenger cars in low-speed front and rear collisions. It applies to front and rear bumpers on passenger cars to prevent the damage to the car body and safety related equipment at barrier impact speeds of 2½ mph across the full width and 1½ mph on the corners.

                This is equivalent to a 5 mph crash into a parked vehicle of the same weight. The standard requires protection in the region 16 to 20 inches above the road surface, and the manufacturer can provide the protection by any means it wants. For example, some vehicles do not have a solid bumper across the vehicle, but meet the standard by strategically placed bumper guards and corner guards.

                4) Are all vehicle classes required to meet the Federal bumper standard?

                No. The Federal bumper standard does not apply to vehicles other than passenger cars (i.e., sport utility vehicles (SUVs), minivans, or pickups trucks). The agency has chosen not to regulate bumper performance or elevation for these vehicle classes because of the potential compromise to the vehicle utility in operating on loading ramps and off road situations.

                15) What is NHTSA doing to address bumper mismatch issue between passenger cars and SUVs?

                The agency is aware that there is a mismatch between the bumpers of passenger cars and those of some light trucks and vans (LTVs). However, bumper elevation is not solely responsible for mismatched contact in vehicle collisions. The effect of braking and interaction of suspension dynamics and vehicle weight can also be attributed to the mismatch. This issue is being addressed as a part of the agency's consideration of the broader issue of vehicle compatibility. Compatibility involves differences in vehicle characteristics between passenger cars and LTVs such as weight, height off the ground, geometry and stiffness. To address this issue, the agency is developing advanced simulation models of vehicles that could be used as tools to understand crash behavior and interactions between incompatible vehicles and to assess safety implications of these vehicles fleet wide. This research could lead to the development of suitable countermeasures for occupant protection in crashes of incompatible vehicles by transferring loads through structural members which interact better in crashes and through energy management while maintaining occupant compartment integrity. Based on the results of the agency's research, rulemaking actions related to the bumper and/or other Federal standards may be undertaken to address the vehicle compatibility issue.

                I'm sure this will be a long, long way off before any regulations are passed but we can keep our fingers crossed.

                Comment


                • #9
                  THAT is a great lead. Thank you so much!

                  Comment

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