Engineers from Loughborough University have developed a reactive head restraint and car seat system in a bid to reduce the effects of whiplash during a rear-end collision.
The new system is demonstrated in a video which shows how in the event of a collision the system brings the head restraint closer to the head, thereby reducing the relative motion between the head and torso. At the same time the car seat reclines to close any gap between the seat and the occupant’s back.
Professor Memis Acar from Loughborough University said the simulation shown in the video demonstrates the system’s potential to reduce the occurrence of whiplash, a soft tissue strain of the neck caused by a sudden movement of the head. The most common whiplash injuries occur from rear impacts in collisions at speeds of less than 15mph.
Whiplash claims are reported to be costing the insurance industry about £2bn a year, with the number of claims in the UK predicted to have reached 840,000 in 2015.
Professor Acar said: “Although whiplash is officially classed as a minor injury, symptoms can last a long time, impacting not only on the nation’s health but also the economy. This is why it is important to limit the risk of whiplash injury.
“A combined reactive seat and head restraint system is designed to reduce the whiplash risk, in conjunction with a seat damper absorbing impact energy from the collision. It does this by reducing the relative motion between the head and the torso and bringing the head restraint closer to the head before whiplash can take effect. But it is the integration of these features which makes this concept so unique and effective.
“There is currently no other product in the automotive market that integrates these concepts. What we are proposing is an affordable design which lends itself well to mass production for all car ranges.”