Car makers only partially responsible for injury prevention: IBC

Use your head! Prevent whiplash! Car makers only partially responsible for injury prevention, says Insurance Bureau of Canada

TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2004 – On the heels of a damning report issued by the US-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which revealed that few headrests adequately protect vehicle occupants, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reminds Canadians that whiplash protection does not lie solely with vehicle manufacturers or the design of the headrest.

“Would we like to see all headrests designed properly to reduce or even prevent whiplash? Of course,” says Mary Lou O’Reilly, IBC’s Vice-President, Public Affairs and Marketing. “Until they are, however, there are simple steps every driver, in almost any car, can take to prevent or reduce the likelihood of whiplash,” she adds.

A properly adjusted headrest can reduce soft-tissue and whiplash-related injuries by as much as 40%. For proper headrest positioning, IBC advises that the centre of the headrest be slightly above the top of the driver’s ear. The top of the headrest should be at least as high as the top of the driver’s head. Ideally, the distance between the headrest and the back of the driver’s head should be 5-10 cm (2-4 inches).

IBC and its member companies are sponsoring a national awareness campaign, “Rest Up! Save Your Neck,” to help educate drivers about the proper adjustment of their vehicle headrests to help prevent whiplash and soft-tissue injuries.

IBC commissioned a study to assess drivers’ adjustment of their vehicle headrests. The results indicated that too many Canadians tend not to take the simple precautions that would protect them against soft-tissue injury, advises Ms. O’Reilly. The study revealed that female drivers were three times more likely than males to have their headrests in the proper position (23% versus 7%). Drivers of large cars and light trucks were much less likely to have their headrests adequately adjusted; only 6% of large cars and 4% of light trucks had their headrests ideally adjusted.

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national trade association of the private property and casualty insurance industry. It represents the companies that provide more than 90% of the private home, car and business insurance in Canada.