Motor research centre Thatcham has been given £1m of extra funding by UK motor insurers in a drive to cut whiplash personal injury claims.

Current estimates put the cost of whiplash claims at £800m a year. This is projected to rise to £1bn by 2002 boosted by the current trend for compensation.

From next year, Thatcham will use a reverse acceleration sled to test and evaluate future seat designs. Components under test can be fixed to the sled, doing away with the need for whole vehicles to be tested each time.

Thatcham is currently working with research centres in the US and the continent to create a single international whiplash test standard.