The UK is the whiplash capital of Europe, with nearly 1,200 people claiming for injuries every day, insurers said on Thursday.
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), badly-fitted head restraints and increased levels of tailgating have contributed to a 25% rise in claims over the past five years.
In 2007, more than 430,000 people claimed for whiplash injuries in the UK.
The ABI said the problem costs the NHS around £8m a year, and members have called on the government to help reduce the number of people affected.
ABI director general Stephen Haddrill said: ‘Whiplash imposes unacceptable costs to individuals, businesses and the state. Insurers want to reduce whiplash, provide fast care and compensation and tackle fraudulent claims. But we cannot do this alone.
‘We call on the Government, road safety groups, the medical and legal professions and other stakeholders to work with us on a campaign to reduce this problem.’
Whiplash and headrests
Worrying, 75% of UK drivers are unaware of how head restraints should be positioned to avoid injury. And statistics show whiplash accounts for 75% of motoring injury claims in the UK, compared with an average of 40% in Europe.
Euro NCAP, the independent car crash-test organisation, recently announced plans to include whiplash tests into its car safety ratings. This change will come into effect from early 2009, and should encourage carmakers to improve the design of head restraints.
The Which? guide to the best car safety features explains how active head restraints can help prevent whiplash injuries. It also has information on the safety features you should insist on when buying a new car.
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