Human crash test dummies to test whiplash lie detector

Human crash test dummies may have to sit through simulated road accidents to test a new whiplash ‘lie detector’.

Insurance companies are so concerned about the rising number of fraudulent personal injury claims in the the UK that they have funded the research and development of the Whiplash Injury Toolkit (WITkit) by car safety rating firm Thatcham.

Thatcham reckons that their WITkit can catch 10% of fraudsters claiming compensation for whiplash injuries – and  running more tests with people rather than dummies can hone the findings.

The toolkit is analysis software that takes details of car crash – like speeds, the type and weight of cars involved and the extent of any damage.

The software then simulates the accident by drawing on database information to indicate whether anyone in the car really suffered an injury.

Claims handlers then decide how to continue with the case.

The toolkit is in response to the number of whiplash claims in the UK, which are much higher than other European countries.

Two years ago, the number of claims totalled around 250,000 cases. Now the figure is nearer 450,000 and costs car insurers  – for which read drivers paying car insurance premiums – around £2 billion a year.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) confirms that the whiplash figures in Britain are more than double the average for other European countries.

Stephen Haddrill, a former ABI Director General, said: “Do we really have weaker necks? Part of the answer must lie in our failing personal injury compensation system and our no-questions-asked approach to whiplash.”

Thatcham will also rate cars for ‘whiplash protection’ in the same way they rate security devices and passenger safety.

“The drawback of the WITkit is it can only indicate the probability of whether a claimant is lying, “ said Thatcham. “Whiplash is a soft tissue injury and doctors can never be certain whether a patient is truly suffering or not.

“WITkit will be effective for approximately 10% of whiplash cases, but this percentage could be dramatically improved with some human testing involving crash simulations; although we are not at this stage yet.”

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