Car Design Can Worsen Whiplash

Sunday, June 10, 2012
Drivers have been warned to take as much care about their headrest positions as they do about wearing their seatbelt by car industry experts.

This is in response to research carried out by Thatcham which looked at car design and whiplash injury. They also report that last year saw the biggest improvement in car design with 80% of seats made in Europe getting a 'good' or 'acceptable' scoring. Only 16% of seats achieved this is in 2005 and in 2002 25% of all cars would not provide whiplash protection.

Peter Roberts, chief executive at Thatcham, 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."

Whiplash injury can occur even when collision speed is very low. Pain can take weeks or years to manifest and is caused by damage to soft tissue around the spine. Symptoms can include shoulder pain, neck pain, stiffness, dizziness and burning sensations.

Thatcham researchers discovered that the amount of damage from whiplash depended mostly on the position of the car's headrest. Movement of the headrest during collision worsened the victim's injury leading Thatcham to ask manufacturers to have a locking system on it.

Dr David Bull said: "Headrests are so important because this is true preventative medicine."

Experts recommend that the headrest should remain near to the back of the head. The top of the head and top of the headrest should be inline. Drivers are advised not to recline their seat or to drive hunched forward as this will increase the distance from the headrest and lead to more serious injuries.

Thatcham scored Saab and Volvo seats as 'good' for preventing whiplash injury with Ford and Renault also performing well. Audi were commended for their seats that were made from special foam to absorb impact and support the neck during collision.

Some 200,000 people per year are victims of whiplash with 20,000 having symptoms for more than 6 months and 2,000 having long-term disability.

Approximately 80% of personal injury claims result from whiplash.

To make a whiplash injury claim the accident must not be caused by the victim. They will have to show that an injury resulted from the accident and following this compensation could be given for 'general damages' (physical and mental injury) and 'special damages' (an example being loss of earnings).

The victim will attend a medical examination to find physical damage then an independent medical expert will look at their case. A solicitor normally guides claimants through this procedure and will advise on whether they have a strong case.

Once this is confirmed the solicitor will forward the claimants details of the accident and injury to the opponent and they will decide if they will accept liability. If they deny it then the case may go to court but this is rare


  • Ellie Graham

    A whiplash injury is a personal injury accidents which is usually caused by a car accident or to any related road accidents. And yes! the seat design can worsen a whiplash. A car's interior must be injury free so that it can help lessen the burden of an injured person.

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