You’ve seen them. The toys that proliferate the vehicles with receiver hitches! You have probably got one or two – I do. Hitch covers, lighted hitch covers, hitch steps, lighted hitch steps, propellers, cartoon characters, and the list goes on.

Your receiver hitch was built to haul heavy trailers and it has a tremendous amount of strength. Do you have any idea how much strength it has?

In 2002, The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety conducted its two 5 mph rear crash tests – the “rear into pole” and “rear into flat barrier” tests on the Chevrolet Blazer at its testing facility in VA. What happened was that the Blazer received NO damage in either of the crash tests – that’s right – NO damage!

So why would it have received no damage when all the other SUVs in this crash test suffered thousands of dollars of damage in the same two tests? Because the Blazer comes standard with a receiver hitch and it just happens to protrude beyond the bumper. When the tests were conducted, the receiver hitch hit the pole or barrier before they had a chance to damage the vehicle. In order to get any crash damage at all the Institute decided to offset the crash slightly for the “rear into pole” test so that the pole hit the bumper and not the hitch resulting in $753 damage.

Why am I telling you this? What the Institute actually found is that some receiver hitches can take an impact up to 5 mph with no damage the vehicle. And, since 75% of all rear end collisions are less than 10 mph why would you fill it up with toys?

Of course the problem is that most of the time the receiver hitch is behind and below the bumper so you have to hit the cheesy bumper and expensive sheet metal before you hit the hitch. Lots of people leave their ball mount inside their receiver hitch to ward off some of the damage it they’re hit from the rear.

The major drawbacks for leaving your ball mount in are that it may be illegal in some states and it will impale anything you back into when you’re parallel parking, (so that strategy could backfire on you and end up costing you money). Also, it’s only 2″ wide so it does not cover much area and, if it’s hit it will bend your receiver hitch because there’s no give while transferring all of the impact energy directly to the vehicle and occupants. And on unibody vehicles it will tear the floor pan because it doesn’t absorb any crash energy.”

There are other products on the market today that can utilize the strength of your receiver hitch, are energy absorbing and will protect your family, vehicle and insurance better then the typical ball mount. There are thousands of uninsured, distracted, inattentive drivers, drivers with poor judgment and lousy-stinking parallel parkers out there just trying to wreck your vehicle, cripple your family, steal your deductible and jeopardize your insurance. And, since you pull a trailer less than 1% of the time, it makes sense to use the other 99% of the time to protect your rear – and not fill it up with toys.

Jeff is CEO of Mohr Mfg – The company makes portable, energy absorbing, spare safety bumpers or “hitch steps” that protect your vehicle from rear-end collision damage, reduce whiplash injuries, shield your gas tank from under-ride and eliminate parking lot and parallel parking dents and dings. For additional information: