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The Saab Active Head Restraint Reduces
Neck Injury -- Press Release
October 25, 2002
ˇ A study by the Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety in the United States finds the Saab Active head Restraint
(SAHR) significantly reduces neck injuries in rear-end collisions
ˇ SAHR provided a 43% reduction in neck injury
claims, including a 55% reduction in claim rates for women and a 31%
reduction for men.
New research from the Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety (IIHS) has shown that Saab's Active Head Restraint (SAHR)
system reduces neck injuries among car occupants by 43 percent. The
study measured the effectiveness of the SAHR system by comparing the
rates of insurance claims for driver neck injuries in rear-end crashes
before and after the SAHR system was introduced.
The SAHR system was introduced in 1997 as the
world's first active, anti-whiplash head restraint and is standard
equipment in all Saab models. It also provides multiple adjustment
points to allow the head restraint to be ideally positioned for most
"The IIHS study reaffirms the findings of
our own research in showing that the SAHR system is effective in
reducing whiplash in rear-end collisions," said Stefan Olsén,
development engineer in Saab's Collision and Safety Department.
"It's more evidence that our real-life safety philosophy is sound.
Good laboratory tests are helpful, but what is most important is that
our safety systems perform well in real-life crashes."
The 43 percent reduction in claim rates is
particularly significant because the SAHR system is compared to Saab's
previous head restraints which were, at the time, considered 'best in
class' by the Swedish insurance company, Folksam.
In the IIHS study, the reduction in neck
injuries were greater for women than men. The SAHR system produced a 55
percent reduction in claim rates for women, compared with a 31 percent
reduction for men.
In another study released in the United States
last year by the Journal of Trauma, the SAHR system was determined to
reduce the risk of neck injuries relating to whiplash in rear-end
collisions by as much as 75 per cent.
Real-life crash statistics show that neck
injuries are one of the most common results of rear-end collisions, even
at relatively low speeds. The triggering factor in these whiplash
injuries is the violent movement of the head in relation to the body
during an impact from behind, often leaving victims with long-term pain.
In the event of a rear-end collision, the SAHR system is designed to
limit the head movement of the occupant during the impact, helping to
reduce the risk of whiplash injuries.
The system is entirely mechanical and is based
on the lever principle. An upper padded support is connected to a
pressure plate in the backrest of the seat. In some rear collisions, the
occupant's body will be forced by the crash pulse into the backrest,
which moves the pressure plate towards the rear. Subsequently, the head
restraint is moved up and forward to "catch" the occupant's
head before the whiplash movement can start. The precise activation of
the system is determined by the force with which the occupant's back is
forced against the backrest, the magnitude of the collision forces and
by the occupant's weight.
A benefit of the mechanical SAHR system is that
in most crashes it needs no repairs to restore it to operational
condition after it has been activated. The head restraint automatically
reverts to its initial position and is immediately ready to operate
again. As whiplash injuries usually occur in low-speed collisions in
which the vehicle may sustain only limited damage, the active head
restraint does not increase the cost of the repairs needed after the
Saab's new 2003 9-3 Sport Sedan features a
"second generation" SAHR for even faster activation in rear
impacts at lower speeds. The head restraint is activated as soon as the
lower back is pressed into the seatback by the occupant's inertia during
a rear impact.
For more information on the IIHS study, see www.highwaysafety.org
For more information about the SAHR, see www.saabusa.com
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