Fleet News

Fleets must act to prevent whiplash injuries

Every day, nearly 1,200 people claim for whiplash following a motor collision – a figure that has risen by 25% in the last five years.

Such is the extent of the problem that the country’s insurers are now calling it an “epidemic”.

They also warn that the annual bill to settle whiplash claims is close to breaking the £2 billion mark for the first time.

This £2 billion bill is met through higher premiums – whiplash claims now account for 20% of every motor premium.

This equates to £66 per annum per motorist compared to the £30 a year that uninsured driving costs each insured driver.

To try to address the problem, the ABI (Association of British Insurers) has joined forces with motoring and road safety groups to set out a programme for action.

In its report - Tackling Whiplash: Prevention, Care, Compensation - which was published this week, the ABI says the UK is the “whiplash capital of Europe”, with 75% of motor personal injury claims for whiplash compared to an average of 40% in the rest of Europe.

“Do we really have weaker necks?” asks Stephen Haddrill, ABI director general.

“Part of the answer must lie in our failing personal injury compensation system and our no-questions-asked approach to whiplash.

"It is important that it is not always assumed that everyone in a car collision is likely to get whiplash and that GPs take this into account in their more rigorous approach to handing out sick notes.”

It has found that many injuries could be prevented with basic education.

For example, 75% of drivers are unaware how head restraints should be correctly positioned.

Fleets have a particular role to play in educating their drivers, points out the ABI.

According to Brake research, 61% of at-work drivers tailgate compared to 40% of motorists not driving for work.

Tailgating is one of the primary factors in rear-end collisions, which often result in whiplash injuries.

The ABI report makes several proposals aimed directly at fleets, including a recommendation that fleet managers have driving at work policies that include information about safe following distances.

ABI spokesman Malcolm Tarling also suggested that “fleet managers should seriously consider purchasing vehicles with proven anti-collision technologies”.

The report also recommends that fleet managers should consider purchasing vehicles with “highly-rated whiplash prevention systems”.

Mr Haddrill also said there is a pressing need for the government, road safety groups, the medical and legal professions and other stakeholders such as fleet operators to work on a campaign to reduce the problem.

Several organisations have already got behind the call for action, including the AA, Driving for Better Business, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

They agree with a call for the Government to develop and implement clear guidance on how to effectively diagnose and treat whiplash, as well as to teach learner drivers the importance of safe following distances.



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