Our cars have many features that help protect us from injury when we are involved in a crash. The two most recognized safety features are seatbelts and airbags. The headrest, however, is a safety feature that is often overlooked.
The headrest was designed by car companies to provide better neck and cervical support. It was also designed to help prevent neck injuries. However, many times the headrest has not been properly adjusted. In fact, up to 90 percent of drivers have their headrests positioned too low. If positioned too low, a driver’s head can actually be whipped over the top of the headrest in a rear-end collision and can cause a severe neck injury.
But when positioned properly, the headrest stops the backward movement of the head in a rear-end collision. That is why it’s important to have your headrest positioned two inches behind your head with the top of the headrest no lower than the top of your head. This is the ideal position for the headrest to work properly and reduce the severity of injury in a rear-end collision.
How do I set my headrest?
Most cars include headrests that can be adjusted vertically as well as forward and backward. The method for changing the position of the headrest varies from car to car. In most cases, drivers can manually lift, lower, push and pull their headrests to the optimal location. Newer models might include an automated system to adjust the headrest. If you are unable to figure out how to properly adjust your headrest, you should consult your car’s manual.
How should your headrest be positioned for maximum protection?
The ideal position of the headrest is between two to four inches from the back of the driver’s head. This helps minimize the distance that the head and neck whip backwards in the event of an accident. Furthermore, the thickest and bulkiest part of the headrest should be about level with the driver’s ear. This part of the headrest has the most cushion and will help protect your head during a collision and minimize injury caused by whiplash.
Do headrests prevent whiplash?
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries that result from a car crash. It occurs when the head and neck are thrown forward and then suddenly thrust back as the cars collide. The greater the distance is that the head and neck are pushed and pulled, the more severe the injury can be. Headrests help minimize the risk of whiplash by preventing the head from overextending too far backwards during a crash. In other words, it cuts off the total distance that the head and neck would have traveled, which consequently prevents further injury.
How do headrests prevent injury?
Head and neck injuries, such as neck strains, soft tissue damage and whiplash, are among the most common injuries that occur in car collisions. The force of an accident causes the head to whip forward and backwards in manners that greatly strain the muscles and tendons in those areas. Headrests prevent these injuries by cushioning the head as it is thrown backwards and slowing down the momentum carrying it to uncomfortable positions that can cause injuries. When placed in the proper position, you maximize the amount of protection your headrest offers.
So the next time you get in a vehicle make sure you adjust your headrest to the proper position. The few seconds it takes for you to do so will save you from a lot of pain later.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.