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When Car Damage is Too Much To Drive

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) Its hard to find a parking lot this time of year that doesn't have a few cars with a cracked bumper or broken tail light. Most have just cosmetic damage, but it doesn't take much for a small bump to become more serious.

When the weather outside is frightful, the roads can be anything but delightful.

"You get people that run into people, people that run into curbs, people that run into ditches, said the owner of Kelley's Auto Body, Larry Kelley.

Looking back, you might not think a simple fender bender would be too expensive, but at the right angle, it could cause big damage.

"It could be very well here which would get into the mechanical side of it, said Bob Mickey Collision Center Operations Manager Trent Thompson.

But keeping a vehicle safe, we found out, is mostly up to the driver.

"If you didn't have a front bumper, if you didn't have a trunk or a hood on your car...legally, there's nothing requiring you, said Cedar Rapids Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Cristy Hamblin.

That means body shops and law enforcement can only suggest a badly damaged vehicle be left at home.

"We ask them to sign a disclaimer that says that we told them that it was unsafe, said Kelley.

This piece of plastic in a back bumper, and something similar up front, are the only things absorbing the blow when one car hits another.

"If this piece of plastic, and it's just a piece of plastic or a piece of Styrofoam, is damaged, that's a safety issue, it can't leave our shop, said Thompson.

It doesn't stop at the bumpers. Body shops say they see deployed airbags, blinkers that don't work and head and tail lights that are damaged.

Even though there's no legal way to keep them off the streets, safety-wise, if you care about yourself at all or your passengers, you want all those things, said Hamblin.

The list of things that a police officer could pull a car off the road for is very short. Unless a care doesn't have a working horn, it can be driven. But that doesn't mean it should be.
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