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WHIPS, or Whiplash Protection System, is a system to protect against automotive whiplash injuries introduced by Volvo in 1998.[1] It was launched when the Volvo S80[2] was released for the 1999 model year and has since been part of the standard equipment of all new Volvo cars.[3]

WHIPS head restraints in XC60


A WHIPS equipped seat is designed so that the entire backrest helps to protect the front occupant's neck in a case of a rear impact. When the WHIPS system is deployed, the front seat backrests and headrests are lowered backward to change the seating position of the driver and front seat passenger.[4] The main energy is absorbed via a pivot at the base of the seat–mechanism which allows the seat to move around the occupants actual hip joint while moving rearward to absorb additional energy. A piece of metal inside the backrest hinge deforms, absorbing more energy. The hinge piece needs to be replaced after having been deployed.[5]

According to Volvo's traffic accident research team, the WHIPS equipped seat resulted in a 33% reduction in short term injury and a 54% reduction in long term whiplash injuries caused by car accidents.[6][7]


Similar front seat technology is now found in many Asian, European, and American vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates head restraint and seat designs and the 2009 Euro NCAP 5 star safety testing now includes whiplash protection as part of the testing program. Saab Automobile AB was first with introducing active head restraints in 1997.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Volvo Car Corporation (15 November 2004). "Volvo Whiplash Protection System". www.volvoclub.org.uk. Retrieved 2017-07-13. 
  2. ^ "Volvo Group". www.volvogroup.com. Retrieved 2017-07-13. 
  3. ^ Volvo Car Corporation (22 April 2004). "Independent studies confirm that Volvo WHIPS offers best whiplash protection system". media.volvocars.com. Retrieved 2017-07-14. 
  4. ^ "General information on WHIPS (whiplash protection)". support.volvocars.com. Retrieved 2017-07-13. 
  5. ^ "New Volvo seatback and head restraint reduce whiplash". www.iihs.org. 8 December 1998. Retrieved 2017-07-13. 
  6. ^ "Depth Perception and Drunk Driving". www.driveandstayalive.com. 2 August 2016. Retrieved 2017-07-13. 
  7. ^ https://www.folksam.se/resurser/pdf/SNRA_engelsk_presentation_2004.pdf
  8. ^ Anders Kullgren; Maria Krafft; Anders Lie; Claes Tingvall. "The effect of whiplash protection systems in real-life crashes and their correlation to consumer crash test programmes" (PDF). nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov. Retrieved 2017-07-14.