Passenger cars provide poor protection: report

NECK INJURIES: Only 22 of the head restraints of 75 vehicles tested in a simulated rear car crash received a score of good, an insurance institute said

AP , NEW YORK

Fri, Apr 06, 2007 - Page 10

Head restraints in several passenger vehicles provided marginal or poor protection against neck injuries and whiplash, the insurance industry reported yesterday in new crash test results.

Only 22 of 75 vehicles tested in a simulated rear crash at 32kph received the top score of good from the Virginia-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Several 2007 vehicles got the lowest score of poor in the tests. The vehicles include: Acura TSX, some versions of the BMW 5 Series, Buick Lacrosse and Lucerne; Cadillac CTS, STS and DTS; Chevrolet Aveo, Pontiac Grand Prix, Honda Accord and Fit; Hyundai Accent, Infiniti M35, Jaguar X-Type, Kia Rio, Mitsubishi Galant, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Corolla, and the Suzuki Forenza and Reno.

The institute estimates that neck injuries account for 2 million insurance claims annually costing at least US$8.5 billion.

Among the top vehicles for head protection, according to the Institute's testing, were the Audi A4, A6 and S4; Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego; Hyundai Sonata, Jaguar S-Type, Kia Optima, Mercedes E-Class, Nissan Sentra and Versa; Saab 9-3, Subaru Impreza, Outback and Legacy; Volvo S40, S60, S80; the Honda Civic 2-door and 4-door versions and some versions of the Volkswagen New Beetle.

"People think of head restraints as head rests, but they're not. They're important safety features," said Adrian Lund, the institute's president.

"You're more likely to need the protection of a good head restraint than the other safety devices in your vehicle because rear-end crashes are so common," Lund said.