Saab Wins 2001 World Traffic Safety Achievement Award for its Innovative Active Head Restraint System
New York. NY—Saab Automobile was recognized at the 2001 World Traffic Safety Symposium as the winner of the 2001 Safety Achievement Award based on its development and implementation of the Saab Active Head Restraint (SAHR). This innovative system is designed to protect front seat occupants against whiplash-related injuries resulting from a rear-end collision. This achievement award highlights Saab's continued commitment to its real-life safety philosophy.
Saab wins 2001 honors
Founded in 1990, the World Traffic Safety Symposium was formed to address the growing concern of traffic injuries and fatalities on roadways. The Symposium is dedicated to bringing auto manufacturers, public and private organizations, and the media together to share information and discuss innovative ways to make automobile travel safer.
Each year, the group gathers research and data from around the globe to create a presentation of the most interesting and innovative advancements in traffic safety. Industry experts, journalists, and manufacturers are invited to attend this showcase of the most cutting edge, life-saving safety features available in vehicles today.
Whiplash among leading medical costs
"Over the past few years, safety agencies, insurance companies, and manufacturers have gathered large amounts of data regarding the frequency and severity of neck and cervical spine injuries," said Dr. David Viano, Saab's Manager of Advanced Safety Research and Development. "The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that there are over 800,000 cases of whiplash annually in the U.S., with an average societal cost of 4.2 billion dollars. In addition, more than half of the medical insurance compensation to car accident victims is related to whiplash injuries."
Saab developed a dynamic head restraint and seat back structure that is designed to prevent neck and spine injuries that can cause long-term disabilities. Saab first introduced SAHR on its 9-5 model line in 1998 and included the system as standard equipment on all model year 1999 vehicles worldwide.
Real-life crashes in Sweden from April, 1998 through September, 2000 have been evaluated in a field study. The results of this study are scheduled for release in May—however, early indications show positive results with a significant reduction in long-term whiplash injury.
How the SAHR works
The SAHR 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 certain rear collisions, the occupant's body is typically forced by the crash pulse into the backrest, which moves the pressure plate towards the rear. Subsequently, the head restraint is designed to move up and forward to "catch" the occupant's head before the violent whiplash movement can start.
The precise activation of the system is determined by the force with which the front seat occupant's back is forced against the backrest, the magnitude of the collision forces, and by the occupant's weight. A major benefit of the mechanical SAHR system is that in most accidents, it requires no post-collision repairs to restore it to operational condition, unlike pyrotechnic systems such as airbags.
Real Life Safety Initiative
The SAHR is an example of Saab's philosophy toward real-life safety. Saab puts priority on systems and structures designed to protect Saab occupants during a real-world collision. Although Saab conducts numerous crash tests—including simulated animal collisions and truck- to-car side impacts—it is real-life collisions and their many variables that drive Saab safety engineers and their work.
"Real-life safety is what matters and is what we are continuously aiming to improve," said Viano. "That is why we are gratified with winning this achievement award. It is not based on a controlled test or a concept—it is based on performing well in the real world."