Retrospective evaluation of vehicle whiplash-reducing head restraint systems to prevent whiplash injury in Victoria, Australia

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Abstract

Head restraint systems specifically engineered to reduce the impact of whiplash injury in the event of a rear-end collision were introduced in the late 1990s with the aim of reducing whiplash injury risk that went 'beyond simple geometric improvements’ to head restraints. Whilst studies have shown that whiplash-reducing head restraint systems are highly effective in reducing whiplash injury, these were based on a limited range of systems including Toyota's Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) seating system, Volvo's Whiplash Injury Prevention System (WHIPS) and the Saab Active Head Restraint (SAHR) and have generally focussed on Swedish crash and insurance data. However, there has been no broad real-world crash-based evaluation of the effectiveness of whiplash-reducing head restraint systems currently present in the vehicle fleet that validates the results of these studies in other populations. The objective of this study was to undertake a retrospective evaluation of vehicle whiplash-reducing head restraint systems to prevent whiplash injury using real-world crash data linked to insurance claims data in Victoria, Australia. It was found that whiplash-reducing head restraint systems are associated with a statistically significant reduction in the odds of driver and front seat passenger whiplash injury in a vehicle struck in a rear-end collision of 11.6 % (95 % CI 0.20 %, 21.6 %). The results indicate that whiplash-reducing head restraint systems are an effective technology for reducing the risk of whiplash injury to drivers and front seat passengers in a vehicle struck in a rear-end collision. Considering that around a quarter of all casualty crashes involving passenger and light commercial vehicles are rear-end, the fitment of whiplash-reducing head restraint systems to all vehicles as a standard safety feature would likely see a significant reduction in the incidence of whiplash injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105941
Number of pages5
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Volume150
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Head restraint system
  • Rear-end crashes
  • Statistical evaluation
  • Whiplash injury

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