ICBC Rates Rear Crash Protection in 2007 Cars

    Note to journalists: under embargo until 7:00 a.m. PST, Thursday,
    April 5, 2007

    VANCOUVER, April 3 /CNW/ - The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia
(ICBC) today released rear-crash protection ratings of 2007 model passenger
cars. Only 40 per cent of current car models provide adequate protection from
neck injury or whiplash. Seat/head restraint designs in 22 cars are rated
good, but 59 other cars are rated marginal or poor.
    "Whiplash is the most common type of injury in motor vehicle collisions,"
said ICBC Vehicle Safety and Research Manager John Gane. "Studies show that
vehicles with well designed head restraints can reduce injuries in rear-impact
crashes by 24-44 per cent. Drivers can help protect themselves from whiplash
by buying safer vehicles, which also helps to minimize insurance claims
    "Increases in catastrophic injuries are driving up claims costs in B.C.
but less severe injuries are decreasing - partly due to auto manufacturers
improving seat designs in response to insurer testing," said Gane.
    The best-rated 2007 vehicles include all Volvos, Audi A4, and A6, Ford
Five Hundred/Mercury Montego, Nissan Sentra and Versa, Saab 9-3, and Subaru
Impreza and Legacy Outback. Car buyers however should not equate price with
safety, as many lower priced vehicles get good ratings in these tests.
    More vehicle manufacturers are designing safer seats, with seven designs
earning better ratings compared with tests in 2004. Seat/head restraints
improved from poor to good in the 2007 Audi A4, Honda Civic, Hyundai Sonata,
Kia Optima, and Nissan Sentra. Seat/head restraints improved from acceptable
to good in the 2007 Mercedes E Class, and Subaru Legacy/Outback.
    Seat/head restraints in the Chrysler 300, Kia Amanti and Nissan Altima
went from acceptable to poor ratings compared with earlier versions tested in
    Tests were conducted by members of the International Insurance Whiplash
Protection Group (IIWPG) at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
facilities in Virginia. Using the ICBC-developed Head Restraint Measuring
Device, car seats are first measured for head restraint geometry. Seats with
good or acceptable geometry are then subjected to a dynamic crash test that
simulates a stopped vehicle being rear-impacted by another vehicle of the same
weight going 32 km per hour. The results of these two tests are vehicle
ratings of good, acceptable, marginal and poor.

    ICBC is a world leader in car safety research and along with insurers in
the U.K., U.S., Australia, Germany, Sweden and Spain, is a member of the
IIWPG. ICBC has been promoting better seat and head restraint design since
1993 to help reduce injuries and claims costs. ICBC has sold 175 of its B.C.
designed and manufactured Head Restraint Measuring Devices to auto
manufacturers world-wide to help them to develop safer seats. All cars sold in
the U.S. will be required by regulation to use this technology starting in

    Full results of these tests are at link.

    Lower Mainland media outlets: ICBC's Vehicle Safety and Research Manager
John Gane will be available on Thursday, April 5, 2007, at the ICBC Material
Damage Research and Training facility in Burnaby for interviews and
demonstrations on good head rest design.

For further information:

For further information: John Gane, (604) 341-4127 or (604) 661-6504;
Kate Pasieka, (604) 240-7404

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