Small Cars Prove the Least Effective in Preventing Whiplash Injuries

by allan46 on February 7, 2011

Studies carried out at motor insurance research centre, Thatcham, have revealed that small ‘city’ cars are the least effective in preventing passengers from suffering incapacitating whiplash injuries.

The tests which looked at the performance of a variety of car seats and head restraints during low speed rear end collisions, showed that smaller, nippy vehicles which are often popular because of their positive environmental qualities, were also the least safe.

None of the so called city cars that were examined achieved a rating of ‘good’, and only two vehicles, the Renault Twingo and the Smart Fortwo, achieved an ‘acceptable’ rating.

The results proved particularly worrying according to Thatcham, as the majority of these cars are used in places where traffic is at its heaviest and where most whiplash injuries occur.

A spokesperson at Thatcham said, “These cars need the best protection because they are smaller and lighter and more susceptible to high forces in a rear end crash. These city cars are not equipped to protect their occupants’ necks when they have to absorb the crash energy from larger, heavier vehicles which combined with poor seat design makes whiplash far more likely.”

Further results showed that the slightly larger ‘supermini’ cars didn’t fair any better during the tests, with two thirds of them rating as ‘marginal’ or ‘poor’. Renault proved to be one of the best manufacturers in terms of safety with their Clio and Modus receiving a rating of ‘good’.

For small and large family cars like the Ford Focus and Ford Mondeo, the results were more encouraging however. More than two thirds were rated as ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’ with the majority of executive cars such as the BMW 5-Series receiving a rating of ‘good’.

Volvo continued to be top of the pile for safe vehicle production and was one of only three manufacturers to achieve an ‘all good’ rating. Centre research manager at Thatcham, Matthew Avery said, “Volvo has shown a continuing commitment to safety, and their seats once again performed very well in our tests. This is supported by real world injury data which confirms that these seats do produce a significant reduction in whiplash injuries. Volvo continues to be the trend setter in this area.”

All models in the Volvo range feature a Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) as standard and proved how beneficial it is during test carried out by Volvo’s traffic accident research team. They compared real life whiplash injuries from cars that included a whiplash protection system and cars that didn’t. They found that WHIPS reduced short term injuries by 33 per cent and long term injuries by 54 per cent.

Experts said that car buyers looking for vehicles that have seats with a ‘good’ rating for whiplash protection now have a far wider choice but they are being forced to spend more to help prevent such injuries.

Avery said, “Although across the board we are seeing improved seat designs with around 75 per cent of all new seats tested now achieving a good or acceptable rating, more can certainly still be done.”

He added, “Good seat design is not something that should be inherently linked to higher value cars and this latest set of results will hopefully act as a catalyst for vehicle manufacturers to look at improving seat and head restraints design within this important growing sector.”

Phil Benson is an author of several articles pertaining to No Win No Fee, Compensation Claims, Personal Injury Claims and other legal articles.’
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