In its first ever whiplash crash tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety simulated a 20-mile an hour rear impact crash...using a testsled and 73 different seat designs. The results were disappointing.
"Only eight of the 73 seat-head restraint combinations that we tested were rated good and only another 16 were rated acceptable," says Sue Ferguson, the Senior Vice President of Research for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The good designs--like the Volvo S40--ensure the head and neck are supported in a rear collision...that they don't snap backwards.
"You need to keep the head, the neck and the torso all aligned as it moves forward," says Ferguson.
The Saab 9-3 also did a good job protecting the neck, and clearly outperformed the Infinity Q-45.
The 8 cars with the good rating include Volvo's, Saab's, a Jaguar, Subaru Impreza and some VW Beetles.
Another 16 vehicles rated acceptable.. including, the Chevy Malibu, Dodge Stratus, Nissan Altima and Toyota Corolla.
Good performance depends on the headrest. It must sit high and close
to the head. And the seat design. These crash tests show that many manufacturers need to go back to the drawing board to design safer seats.