Euro NCAP suggests that car manufacturers fail to recognise whiplash impact

Road traffic accidents are a common hazard both at home and abroad, with many such incidents involving minor prangs, scrapes and bumps. Unfortunately, personal injury is also a feature of road traffic accidents and it is common for people to experience bruising and whiplash injuries even in the seemingly most innocuous of accidents. Worse still, around 42,000 people die every year on European roads. With this in mind, it is worth considering the value of the Euro NCAP, which conducts a number of tests on popular cars sold in Europe with the aim of providing motorists with reliable information as to their safety. Established in 1997, Euro NCAP has received the endorsement of the European Commission and seven European Governments.

Personal injury lawyers regularly deal with instances of whiplash following accidents on the roads. Whiplash injuries can manifest in a number of ways and often prove difficult to accurately diagnose, which is why they took a while to gain the attention they deserved in various circles. Nowadays, whiplash injuries are taken very seriously by lawyers, insurers and the medical community. However, it has taken some time for certain car manufacturers to develop seats that are specifically designed to reduce the risk of whiplash injuries, with Volvo and Mercedes leading the field for many years. Euro NCAP has long provided risk assessments of cars that include an evaluation of their capability to protect drivers from whiplash injuries. As the Christmas and New Year periods arrive with the associated difficult driving conditions, it is worth taking a look at some of the latest cars to have been assessed by Euro NCAP for their anti-whiplash qualities.

The Toyota iQ is one of the latest cars to have been evaluated by Euro NCAP and, on the whole, the car received excellent results. In particular, the car scored maximum results for the protection of the passenger; although, the tests did reveal that the risk of injury to child occupants in side impacts were increased by a faulty ISOFIX attachment, which has since been remedied by Toyota. In terms of anti-whiplash seating, the Toyota iQ was assessed as providing only marginal protection. Specifically, the car received a rear impact (whiplash) score of just 2.7 points. However, 2.7 points is not as poor as it may initially seem. Many other recently produced cars have scored very low on the test, which suggests that certain manufacturers have failed to identify the significance of whiplash related injuries. According to the Euro NCAP tests, the Suzuki Splash, Peugeot 308CC and Daihatsu Terios offer no anti-whiplash protection whatsoever.

Popular cars such as the Citroen C3 Picasso (0.3), Ford Kuga (0.4), Citroen C5 (0.6), Citroen C3 (0.9) and Hyundai i10 (0.9) also scored less than 1.0 in the Euro NCAP tests for anti-whiplash seating, whilst the Citroen Berlingo (1.0) and Daihatsu Cuore (1.1) were also considered poor. At the other end of the scale, the Vauxhall Astra scored the highest with a rating of 3.7 points. Other recent models of car that comprise good reactive head restraint systems include the Skoda Yeti (3.6), Volvo XC60 (3.5), Alfa Romeo MiTo (3.3), Toyota Avensis (3.3), VW Golf (3.3), VW Scirocco (3.3) and Audi Q5 (3.3).

Whilst it is obviously important to consider anti-whiplash capabilities when choosing a new car, it is worth remembering that whiplash remains a common occurrence on the roads throughout Europe and that compensation can and should be claimed where another driver has caused any such injury.

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