Most people think that the head-sized extension on the top of your car seat is just for resting your head on. However, it is not just a place to rest your head on, it is actually a key safety feature called a head restraint. This head restraint helps to prevent whiplash in the case of a rear-end collision and having it correctly aligned and adjusted can be the difference between coming out of an accident completely unharmed, or experiencing sever neck pain for weeks on end. It can also determine whether you have to foot the huge medical bill and undergo medical treatment.
The Proper Use of Head Restraints can Reduce the Chances of Whiplash
The most common type of injury sustained in an auto accident is whiplash. Recent studies have shown that the correct use of a head restraint can reduce the chances of experiencing whiplash by 40%. In a rear-end collision the head restraint helps to keep your body and your head moving together, the problem occurs when the head restraint isn’t correctly aligned and the movement of the head lags behind the movement of the body and snaps backwards. This is what leads to serious neck injury, or what is commonly known as whiplash. The modern designs of head restraints are created to prevent whiplash, that is why they are so much taller than they used to be.
One of the main problems with the new, modern head restraints is that people find them uncomfortable. Many drivers have complained that the head restraints points their neck forward and gives them neck pain after only a few minutes of driving. One of the main reasons for the complaints that drivers have about these head restraints is due to the fact that auto manufacturers have to meet certain criteria in order to receive a good review from the IIHS. One particular criteria is that the head restraint must be no more than 2.2 inches away from the drivers head and must be 2 or more inches taller than previously required.
Take the Time to Position Your Head Restraint Correctly
The head restraint can prevent whiplash more, the closer it is to the head when the accident occurs. When hit from the rear your head snaps back and then snaps forward, this stretches the tendons and muscles in the neck and causes severe pain. If the head is unable to snap back as far, then the result will be a reduced chance of injury.
Many head restraints will only adjust vertically, however there are some head restraints that can also tilt backward and forwards. The optimum position for the head restraint is as close to the head as possible and the top of the head restraint should be level with the top of your head.
If you take a little bit of time to correctly adjust your head restraint you will ensure that the amount of pain you experience in a collision is minimal. After all, your health and safety are more than worth the few minutes adjusting it!
Dr. Connor McCormick