In 2007, 430,000 people made a car insurance claim after getting whiplash as a result of a car accident – a rise of nearly a quarter in five years.
According to research published by the Association of British Insurers, nearly 1,200 people make a car insurance
claim for whiplash following a motor collision, which is six times the number of workplace injury claims made each year.
The whiplash claims totalled £2billion in compensation last year, according to the ABI, and treating whiplash injuries costs the NHS around £8billion a year in consultation fees.
The ABI's research reveals that the UK is the 'whiplash' capital of Europe; 75 per cent of all car insurance personal injury claims in the UK are for whiplash compared to 40 per cent in the rest of Europe.
According to the ABI, reasons for the rise in whiplash include motorists tailgating the car in front, and incorrectly adjusted head restraints.
"Whiplash imposes unacceptable costs to individuals, businesses and the state. Insurers want to reduce whiplash, provide fast care and compensation and tackle fraudulent claims. But we cannot do this alone," said Stephen Haddrill, the ABI's director general.
"We call on the Government, road safety groups, the medical and legal professions and other stakeholders to work with us on a campaign to reduce this problem."
The ABI's proposals for reducing whiplash and its effects include emphasizing the importance of safe following distances to learner drivers, getting car salesman to demonstrate, when selling a vehicle, how to correctly adjust the head restraint and Government produced guidelines on how to effectively diagnose and treat whiplash. Direct Line Car Insurance
says the ABI's research highlights some important issues and says its supports the campaign to reduce the number of whiplash cases in the UK.
"One of the main reasons for whiplash highlighted by the ABI's report is tailgating. Tailgating has a huge impact on road safety and we fully support measures which aim to educate drivers of the risks involved," said Frances Browning, spokesperson for Direct Line
"At Direct Line, we're calling for a fundamental change in driver behaviour.
"Drivers need to understand that the increased stress caused as a result of tailgating can lead to volatile situations on the road and that tailgating is responsible for approximately seven per cent of road traffic accidents in the UK.
"We urge drivers to try to prevent whiplash by keeping a safe distance - at least two seconds from the vehicle in front of them and not to put pressure on other road users in an attempt to speed them up."
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