Neck sprain is a general term denoting a soft tissue injury of the neck, which seldom causes major disability but is considered a modern epidemic. The purpose of the present study was to determine the prevalence of sprain of the neck injury due to motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) in both drivers and passengers. In addition, the degree of seat belt wearing in both driver and passenger was analysed. A second aim was to identify groups at risk by analysing the age and gender distribution of patients with neck sprain. The results of this population-based study revealed a sharp increase in neck sprain from 1989 through 1995, whereas a more or less stable pattern was found for seat belt use. The sharp increase was found to be attributable to outpatients. Finally, we found a driver predominance as well as a female predominance; groups at risk were the 20- to 24-year-olds for drivers and 15- to 19-year-olds for passengers.