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Rear-crash tests causing some pain

Published April 5, 2007


NEW YORK - Head restraints in several passenger vehicles provided marginal or poor protection against neck injuries and whiplash, the insurance industry reported Thursday.

Only 22 of 75 vehicles tested in a simulated rear crash at 20 mph received the top score of good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The institute estimates that neck injuries account for 2-million insurance claims annually costing at least $8.5 billion.

Among the top vehicles for head protection, according to the testing, were the Audi A4, A6 and S4; Chevrolet Cobalt; Ford Five Hundred; Mercury Montego; Hyundai Sonata; Jaguar S-Type; Kia Optima; Mercedes E-Class; Nissan Sentra and Versa; Saab 9-3; Subaru Impreza, Outback and Legacy; Volvo S40, S60, S80; Honda Civic 2-door and 4-door versions; and some versions of the Volkswagen New Beetle.

"You're more likely to need the protection of a good head restraint than the other safety devices in your vehicle because rear-end crashes are so common," said Adrian Lund, the institute's president.

Bill Kwong, a Toyota spokesman, said the test does not take into account other aspects of a vehicle's response to a crash under normal driving conditions, such as the vehicle's structure, rear crumple zones and bumpers.

"We feel our in-house procedures are good predictors of how it will perform in the real world," Kwong said.


Worst performers

These 2007 vehicles received the lowest score (poor) in crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

- Acura TSX

- Some versions of the BMW 5 Series

- Buick Lacrosse and Lucerne

- Cadillac CTS, STS and DTS

- Chevrolet Aveo

- Pontiac Grand Prix

- Honda Accord and Fit

- Hyundai Accent

- Infiniti M35

- Jaguar X-Type

- Kia Rio

- Mitsubishi Galant

- Toyota Avalon

- Toyota Corolla

- Suzuki Forenza and Reno

[Last modified April 5, 2007, 01:20:06]

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