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Whiplash still a risk

18 July 2005

Millions of motorists still risk whiplash injuries because they don’t correctly position their head restraints, according to the RAC Foundation.

Merc headrest

Millions of motorists still risk whiplash injuries because they don’t correctly position their head restraints, according to the RAC Foundation.

The foundation says its spot checks of motorists reveal that 55% still don’t use head restraints to protect themselves from injury. It is calling on manufacturers and legislators to take action.

With an estimated £2 billion a year paid out by insurers for whiplash injuries, which occur in 80% of rear-impact collisions, the foundation says more needs to be done to protect motorists.

As well as clearer information in handbooks on how to make the necessary simple adjustments, the foundation wants to see manufacturers improve designs and fit more active systems that move in the event of a collision to minimise injuries.

It also wants the danger of whiplash injuries to be highlighted in new campaigns and has called for a minimum standard to be set by legislators.

Head restraints should always be positioned as close to the back and top of your head as possible. Tall drivers are particularly at risk from exaggerated injuries if restraints are left in the lowest position.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) sets groupings for all cars sold in the UK and says it is investigating whether to incorporate head restraint design into ratings. It says a decision is likely within the next two months.

Whatcar.com editor Iain Reid said: ‘Head restraints are already included in American insurance ratings, which has encouraged better designs as a result.

‘We hope the ABI decides to follow suit in the UK groupings so motorists are better protected from injury in this country too.’

Motor research group Thatcham tests the effectiveness of head restraints. Follow the links here to see the results on Whatcar.com and to find out more about positioning your head restraints.

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