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Whiplash prevention could mean big savings for you and ICBC

The website – Whiplash Prevention helps consumers compare safety features and fuel efficiency of vehicles and it is all part of a home grown safety campaign here in Vancouver that launched this month.

What started as a project to help people choose cars with good safety features expanded to include vehicles with a smaller carbon footprint because there was a high demand from businesses that managed fleets.

The result, a fantastic website that lets users rate their current car and also look at how other cars compare.

This month the website has a push on Whiplash Prevention because of the high number of whiplash incidents that occur not only here in BC, but throughout the world. Through lots of research it has been proven the most effective way to prevent whiplash injuries is to purchase a car with a good rated head restraint and then to adjust the head restraint properly. While other safety devices and systems are available to help protect you in front and side impact collisions (seat belts, airbags, etc.), a properly designed seat and adjusted head restraint is the most effective safety feature for protecting yourself and your family from injuries that happen in a rear-end collision.

Unfortunately, awareness of the importance of head restraints remains very low both in Canada and around the world. An Insurance Bureau of Canada study performed in 2002 showed that in Canada about 86% of head restraints are adjusted improperly.

  • About 40 per cent of B.C. drivers don’t have their car’s head restraint properly adjusted to prevent whiplash, according to research by the team overseen by Douglas Romilly, the campaign’s project leader and a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of British Columbia.
  • Romilly’s team took photos of 2,770 drivers at 31 sites in B.C. and ran them through computer analysis. 39% didn’t have their head restraints, or headrests, in a position that would protect them in a crash, 61% were acceptable and only 44% of the total were in the optimal position for safety. Drivers of full-sized pickup trucks and minivans were among the worst offenders, Romilly said.
  • Using data from ICBC – including its 2002 estimate that whiplash claims ate up $135 from every annual car insurance payment in B.C.
  • Romilly’s team calculated that whiplash injuries cost British Columbians more than $464 million a year in lost work, medical bills, disability and lawsuits.

Raising awareness about how to properly adjust your head restraint remains a very important aspect of reducing whiplash injury on a large scale.

While head restraints are very important, they are only one of the important safety features you should always look for when purchasing a vehicle. The more you know about the overall safety of your vehicle, the better you can prevent whiplash and other injuries from vehicle collisions. For more information on Whiplash Prevention and a ‘how to’ guide on adjusting your car seats, visit  The Whiplash Prevention Campaign is also sponsoring a video contest looking for the best 30-second to three-minute spot explaining how to avoid neck injuries in a crash. Deadline for entries is March 1, 2013.

by Erin Ellis, Vancouver Sun

Informational References:

Transport Canada

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia

BC Injury Prevention Unit

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety