Latest Automotive News

Subscribe in a reader

Vehicle head restraints perform poorly in insurance industry crash tests

Email   small font medium font large font


WASHINGTON (AP) _ Head restraints in dozens of sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and minivans provided only poor or marginal protection from neck injuries in simulated crashes conducted by the U.S. insurance industry.

The test results released Tuesday found several SUVs had improved protections against whiplash injuries but gave poor marks to vehicles made by several leading automakers, including BMW AG, DaimlerChrysler AG, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said the simulated rear crashes at 32 kilometres an hour showed many large vehicles fall short in protecting against neck injuries, which lead to two million insurance claims a year costing at least US$8.5 billion.

``In stop-and-go commuter traffic, you're more likely to get in a rear-end collision than any other crash type,'' said Institute vice-president David Zuby.

``It's not a major feat of engineering to design seats and head restraints that afford good protection in these common crashes.''

The institute evaluated 87 current vehicle models based on the geometric measurements of the head restraints and their performance in a crash-simulation sled. Fifty-four of the vehicles were rated marginal or poor, the two lowest rankings, while a dozen received the second-highest score of acceptable. Twenty-one received the best rating of good.

Automakers said there were many ways to evaluate rear crash protection and their vehicles were designed to provide a high degree of safety.

``We feel our test procedures are good predictors of how well our seat/head restraints will protect occupants from neck injuries in the event of a rear impact,'' said Toyota spokesman Bill Kwong in an e-mail.

Several SUVs made progress _ 17 of 59 SUVs from the 2007 model year received top ratings in the testing, compared with six of 44 SUVs tested in 2006.

The best performers among 2007 SUVs included: Acura MDX and RDX; Lincoln MKX, Ford Edge and Ford Freestyle; Honda CR-V, Element and Pilot; Hyundai Santa Fe; Jeep Grand Cherokee; Kia Sorento; Land Rover LR3; Mercedes M Class; Mitsubishi Outlander; Subaru B9 Tribeca and Forester, and Volvo XC90.

SUVs from the 2007 model year rated poorly were: BMW X3 and X5; Buick Rainier, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy and Isuzu Ascender; Cadillac SRX; Chrysler Pacifica; Dodge Nitro; Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer; Mitsubishi Endeavor; Hummer H3; Hyundai Tucson; Jeep Liberty; Kia Sportage; Lexus GX470 and RX; Nissan Xterra; Saab 9-7X; Suzuki XL7; Toyota 4Runner and Highlander.

In other vehicle categories, the 2007 Toyota Tundra was the only pickup to receive the top score. Three minivans received the highest marks: Ford Freestar, Hyundai Entourage and the Kia Sedona.

For pickups, the institute gave poor ratings to Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Classic and the GMC Sierra 1500 Classic; Dodge Ram 1500; Ford Ranger and Mazda B Series; Nissan Frontier and certain versions of Ford F-150, Dodge Dakota and Mitsubishi Raider.

Minivans scoring poorly were the Buick Terraza, Chevrolet Uplander and Saturn Relay; some versions of the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan; and the Toyota Sienna.

Another group of SUVs, pickups and minivans received either the second-lowest score of marginal or the second-highest rating of acceptable. A complete listing was available on the institute's website.

Several automakers defended their methods of testing for rear crash protection.

DaimlerChrysler noted many of the vehicles were designed before the Institute began conducting the tests. General Motors said head restraints are designed for a variety of driver sizes and the restraints ``are part of the integrated approach to occupant protection in all GM vehicles.''

Nissan said in a statement it designs ``all of our products to provide a high level of occupant safety in a wide range of real-world crashes, including rear-impact collisions.''

The crash simulation sled replicates the forces in a stationary vehicle that is struck in the rear by a similar vehicle at 32 km/h. Vehicles got a higher rating if the head restraint contacted the dummy's head quickly and the forces on the dummy's neck and the acceleration of the torso were low.

The tests also consider the height of the restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man.


On the Net:

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

Receive the latest automotive news by email!

Enter your email address:

Related news
The number of new cars considered the safest by the U.S. insurance industry nearly tripled in the last year, helped by automakers' push to make certain safety equipment more widely available. Ford Motor Co. ...
2006 Kia Sedona Minivan Earns Top Honors for All-around Impact Crash Tests ...
Imported models took all 13 spots on the U.S. insurance industry's list of safest vehicles this year, due mainly to a new requirement that all cars and sport utility vehicles ...
Today it was announced the 2007 Kia Amanti received a “Good” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in a side impact crash test for large luxury cars. A "Good" ...
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. government wants new passenger vehicles to provide head protection in dangerous side-impact crashes, which kill thousands of motorists every year and leave others with serious brain injuries. The National ...
Small in stature, a group of 2009 two-door cars are providing good safety value to car shoppers, according to crash tests.
For many Canadian motorists, they're a fixture of the morning commute: that lady in the left lane steering with one hand and curling her hair with the other, or the ...
Vehicle InsuranceBy Paul Rogers ( One of the first things you need when you purchase a new car or truck is vehicle insurance. Insurance rates will vary greatly depending ...
WINNIPEG (CP) _ The Manitoba government is forcing thousands of vehicle owners to get anti-theft immobilizers or risk losing their car insurance. Starting Sept. 1, Manitobans with vehicles on the most-at risk list will ...
The Barenaked Ladies will perform at the North American International Auto Show's black-tie charity preview event in Detroit. The annual gala will be held Jan. 18 at the downtown Cobo Center. The Auto Show ...

Best Investment Newsletter

- 46% in 2008

- invest in the best performing US stocks only and sell them when the uptrend is over

- very easy to follow, simple buy/sell signals

- no need to have investing or trading experience

Find More Now!

Vehicle head restraints perform poorly in insurance industry crash tests
> © 2006-2017 except where otherwise noted