Fender benders are targeted in New York state

January 29, 1993|By Newsday

NEW YORK -- The state of New York is set to wheel out a new law next week targeted at that scourge of urban driving -- the fender bender.

No, the state hasn't figured out a way to avoid those collisions that leave a car drivable but needing costly repairs. But it will require a "bumper quality label" on new cars so that buyers can consider that in comparison shopping.

Insurance companies, eager to hold down accident costs, are enthusiastic. "Overwhelmingly, this is what we're talking about these days, accidents that bend metal and cause unnecessary repair costs and tie up traffic," said Brian O'Neill, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an industry-sponsored group.

Car makers, as you might guess, are less eager to see such a law. General Motors issued a statement yesterday saying it was preparing labels, though it believes New York is pre-empted by federal law. It suggested compliance would be costly but stopped short of saying a legal challenge was in the works.

The law, sponsored by New York Assemblyman Ivan Lafayette, applies to vehicles made by manufacturers after Jan. 1 and sold by automakers as of next Wednesday.

The sticker will show the speed at which an automaker says front and rear bumpers can bear an impact and yet sustain no damage to the car body and minimal damage to bumper and attachment parts.

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