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Is Whiplash Prevention Technology Reducing Car Injuries?

Jan 5, 2017
3 min read

whiplash prevention technology

Many automakers started implementing automobile safety features in the early 2000’s that were designed to reduce the risk of whiplash or neck injury. So it begs the question: Is whiplash prevention technology reducing automobile injuries?

A Safety Study In Active Head Restraints

This whiplash prevention technology is designed for the most effective goal in reducing the risk of whiplash in rear-end crashes: keeping the passenger’s head and torso moving together. So, are these newer safety designs reducing neck injuries of car passengers?

Many studies such as one by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have examined three separate approaches to improving this technology:

  1. Improvement to the geometry of the headrest, allowing it to be better-positioned behind and closer to the back of an occupant’s head.
  2. Active head restraints, which aids in preventing neck injury by moving the head restraint up and forward in the event of a rear crash, supporting the head and absorbing impact.
  3. Seatback safety designs which allow them to yield in rear-end crashes to reduce the forward acceleration of occupants’ torsos.

Effective Whiplash Prevention Technology

Active head restraints proved to help reduce the risk of neck injury, not only by supporting the head at an early timing but also through its trajectory, which stops the malalignment of joints. Insurance companies (Nationwide, Progressive, and State Farm) participating in the study also supplied claim data which proved that neck injury claim rates reduced by 43% in Saab, General Motors, and Nissan models with active head restraints, compared to earlier models without the technology.

Room For Improvement In Automobile Neck Injury Prevention

Other whiplash prevention systems didn’t prove to fare as well. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that neck injury claim rates didn’t decrease with some seatback designs such as Toyota’s whiplash injury lessening system, but the IIHS has since been working with them to improve these results. Improved head restraint geometry such as in Ford’s, saw mixed outcomes: a 37% claims reduction for women, however an 8% increase in men.

As automobile technology grows, so does the demand for safety and improvements. Want to know more about the effectiveness of automobile safety features? Stay tuned as McKenzie & Snyder continues to break down some solid facts to answer the question: Do newer automobile safety features increase passenger safety?

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