Many cars offer poor whiplash protection


VW Golf is among the models rated "poor"

A car safety study has found that a quarter of cars do not offer enough protection against whiplash injuries.
More than 200,000 people a year are involved in accidents which leave them with whiplash.

The study by the Thatcham research centre gave certain models of Volkswagen and Skoda cars a "poor" rating for the protection provided by their headrests.

Manufacturers which scored highly
Volvo
Saab
Renalt
Vauxhall

But manufacturers Volvo and Saab scored highly in the first tests of their kind and half of all the 250 cars tested were categorised as good.

The researchers found the severity of whiplash injuries was governed by the position of a car's headrest.

In some vehicles, it is not locked in place and moves about in an accident.

Researchers are now calling on manufacturers to improve the designs of headrests, and incorporate a locking system to ensure that they do not shift out of place on impact.

Headrests

Thatcham chief executive Peter Roberts said: "The majority of vehicle manufacturers have already incorporated geometrically correct designs that offer good protection.

"It is clear, however, that certain vehicle manufacturers need to make improvements to fall within the internationally recognised standards."

He added that motorists could make themselves safer by ensuring their headrests, also called head restraints, are adjusted properly.

Cars which scored badly
Volkswagen Passat and Golf
Skoda Octavia
Citroen C3
Some Landrover Freelanders

Dr David Bull told BBC Breakfast women were twice as likely to suffer whiplash because they sat further forward, away from the head restraint.

He said: "Head restraints are so important because this is true preventative medicine."

Ken Roberts, research and operations director at Thatcham, said: "Most people have taken on board the message that using a seat belt saves lives.

"Now they should use their heads and save their necks."

The study found nearly three-quarters of drivers did not adjust their head restraints.

They should be positioned as close to the back of the head as possible, touching is best, and the top of the rest should be as high as the top of the head.

Of the 200,000 people who suffer from whiplash, 20,000 will endure symptoms for more than six months, while 2,000 will suffer some permanent disability.

Insurers face a Ј1.6bn bill each year, with whiplash compensation now accounting for 80% of personal injury claims.


WATCH/LISTEN

ON THIS STORY

The BBC's Simon Montague
"Use your head and save your neck"


Ken Roberts,Thatcham Test Centre operations director
"25% of cars (in this class) are poor or inadequate"




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"Events in our past seem to slip further away with time. But what happens when they circle back and meet us head on....in the present? Before we allow ourselves to be consumed by our regrets, we should remember the mistakes we make in life are not so important as the lessons we draw from them.." Outer Limits(Last supper)