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Don't stick neck out on safety

Safe seat: Active head restraints, seen here being tested in Saab's 9-5, were only fitted to three models involved in the survey.

Drivers are lacking proper restraint when it comes to head protection, according to a RACV survey

General News logo31 Oct 2001

MORE than half of all drivers on today's roads are at risk of serious neck injury from incorrectly adjusted head restraints, according to a survey conducted by the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV).

Despite recent advances in car technology, the RACV has warned that unless drivers adjust their head restraint to suit their individual needs, the capacity of even the most technologically advanced head restraint is significantly reduced.

"While design improvements can help reduce neck injuries, driver safety is ultimately up to motorists who need to make adjustments for their own heights," RACV chief engineer Michael Case said.

"This is particularly important for women, who account for 60 per cent of neck injuries." The RACV conducted the survey jointly with NRMA Insurance in NSW by filming motorists on a number of roads in the Sydney area and analysing the footage for head restraint positioning.

The video survey showed that in 1691 cases where the position could be determined, 56 per cent of drivers were not adjusting their head restraints properly and were risking potential neck injuries in the event of a rear impact.

"We were stunned to find that the majority of motorists still are not adjusting their head restraints," Mr Case said.

A further study was carried out measuring head restraints in 56 of the top selling vehicles on the Australian market, which account for around 80 per cent of all new passenger vehicles sold.

The study showed vehicle manufacturers have improved significantly in their treatment of this safety issue over the past 12 months by incorporating better head restraints into new cars.

Seventy-one per cent of vehicles rated "Good" or "Acceptable" with only 29 per cent rating "Marginal" or "Poor", compared with last year's results when the figures were 46 per cent and 54 per cent respectively.

The head restraints were rated by measuring the distance back to the head restraint from the head form and the distance from the top of the head restraint to the top of the head form - a combination of these two measurements was used to derive the rating.

RACV recommends head restraints be set so the top of the restraint is at least as high as the occupant's eyes and as close as comfortable to the back of the occupant's head.

Holden Barina - Good (Active seat back)
Hyundai Accent - Good
Nissan Pulsar hatch - Good
Peugeot 206 - Good
Renault Clio - Good
Subaru Impreza RX - Good
Toyota Echo - Good
Daewoo Lanos - Acceptable
Ford Laser - Acceptable
Mitsubishi Lancer coupe - Acceptable
Toyota Corolla - Acceptable
Volkswagen Golf - Acceptable
Holden Astra - Marginal
Nissan Pulsar sedan - Marginal
Daewoo Matiz - Poor
Ford Ka - Poor Medium cars:
Daewoo Tacuma - Good
Mazda 626 - Acceptable
Subaru Liberty - Acceptable
Volkswagen New Beetle - Acceptable
Holden Vectra - Poor Large cars:
Mitsubishi Magna - Acceptable
Toyota Camry - Acceptable
Ford Falcon - Marginal
Toyota Avalon - Marginal
Holden Commodore - Poor Luxury cars:
Mercedes-Benz C-Class - Good
Saab 9-5 - Good (Active seat back)
Volvo S60 - Good (Active seat back)
Rover 75 - Good
Audi A4 - Good
Lexus GS300 - Good
BMW 318i - Acceptable
BMW 3-Series coupe - Acceptable
BMW 3-Series sedan - Acceptable
Holden Statesman - Marginal
Honda Accord - Poor People-movers:
Chrysler Grand Voyager - Good
Mazda MPV - Good
Honda Odyssey - Marginal
Kia Carnival - Marginal
Volkswagen Caravelle - Marginal
Renault Megane Scenic - Poor 4WDs:
Holden Jackaroo - Good
Honda CR-V - Good
Toyota LandCruiser - Good
Toyota RAV4 - Good
Mazda Tribute - Acceptable
Suzuki XL-7 - Acceptable
Mitsubishi Pajero Exceed - Acceptable
Nissan Pathfinder - Acceptable
Subaru Outback H6 - Acceptable
Toyota Prado - Acceptable
Ford Escape - Marginal
Renault Scenic RX4 - Poor

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