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UK 'is Europe's whiplash capital'

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Motor-insurance claims for whiplash injuries in the UK have risen by a quarter in the past five years, and are now costing nearly £2 billion a year in compensation.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says that badly-fitted head restraints and increased tailgating led to 430,000 people claiming for whiplash last year. Treating such injuries costs the NHS £8 million a year.

All of which has made the UK the whiplash capital of Europe: 75% of motor personal-injury claims are for the injury, compared with an average of 40% throughout the rest of Europe.

Many drivers and passengers are at risk because three quarters of drivers are unaware how head restraints should be correctly positioned.

ABI director general Stephen Haddrill said: "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.

"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."

© Press Association 2008