Most Cars Failing Head Restraint Testing

(CBS) - Think the seat/head restraints in your call will protect you and your passengers in a rear end collision?

Well, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the seat/head restraints on more than 60% of the car models it tested failed to adequately protect occupants in rear crashes, even low-impact crashes.

The Institute's study released on Thursday, reports that only 22 current car models rated good for rear-crash protection, while 53 other cars got a "marginal" or "poor" rating.

And some of the vehicles that the Institute gave an overall poor performance to include some of the nation's most popular cars.

A sampling includes: the Honda Accord EX and LX models with standard seats, Infiniti M35 with active head restraints, Jaguar X-Type, Toyota Avalon and Toyota Corolla.

However, the Honda Accord EX models with standard seats did receive a "good" rating for the geometry of seat/head restraint system and a "poor" for the dynamic rating.

Among the winners as rated by the Institute are all Volvos; Audi A4, S4 and A6; Ford Five Hundred/Mercury Montego; Nissan Sentra and Versa; Saab 9-3; and Subaru Impreza and Legacy/Outback.

The Institute also gave 12 other car models an "acceptable" rating.

According to the Institute, neck injuries - like whip lash - are the most common injuries resulting from automobile crashes, many of which are the result of a rear-end collision.

The Institute estimates that rear-end collisions account for $2 million insurance claims annually - costing more than $8.5 billion.

Although injuries like whip lash are usually not fatal, even minor neck injuries can be painful and can require medical care.

When a vehicle is struck from behind, the momentum pushes the seats and its occupants forward.

However, as a result the occupant's torso accelerates faster than the person's head, thus causing neck injuries like whip lash.

Seat/head restraints are designed to tighten upon impact to keep the person from going forward.

What the Institute was testing was how well a vehicle's restraint system handled in a rear-end collision at low speeds

While most manufactures have made improvements to their seat design and head/torso restraint system, the Institute said more work needs to be done.

The Institute began rear impact testing of seat/head restraints in 2004.


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