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Effects of head restraint and seat redesign on neck injury risk in rear-end crashes

Farmer, Charles M.; Wells, JoAnn K.; Lund, Adrian K.
Traffic Injury Prevention (TIP)
June 2003

Automobile insurance claims were examined to determine the rates of neck injuries in rear-end crashes for vehicles with and without redesigned head restraints, redesigned seats, or both. Results indicate that the improved geometric fit of head restraints observed in many newer vehicle models are reducing the risk of whiplash injury substantially among female drivers (about 37% in the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable), but have very little effect among male drivers. New seat designs, such as active head restraints that move upward and closer to drivers' heads during a rear impact, give added benefit, producing about a 43% reduction in whiplash injury claims (55% reduction among female drivers). Estimated effects of Volvo's Whiplash Injury Prevention System and Toyota's Whiplash Injury Lessening design were based on smaller samples and were not statistically significant.