Inadequate Positioning of Head Restraints Leads to Whiplash

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries caused by rear end collisions. Considering that there is a rear end crash every 17 seconds in the United States, according to Consumer Reports, it is unfortunate that most vehicles offer little protection against such injuries. Most whiplash injuries could be prevented or minimized with better head restraints and seatbelts. However, even if a vehicle has proper head restraints and seat belts, most people don’t know how to properly position them and do not take the time to do it.

Whiplash, the rapid snapping back of someone’s head during a collision, hyperextends and can damage nerves and ligaments in the neck. There are roughly 2 million reports of whiplash every year and an estimated 200,000 of these are serious enough to cause long term problems. In order to protect yourself, one must make sure that the seat/head restraint combo is properly positioned so that your torso, neck, and head move in the same plane. Good positioning of the head restraint is critical. Studies have shown that drivers tend to have the restraint positioned too low. The top of the restraint should reach at least to the top of your ears and be 3 inches or less behind the back of your head. Most vehicles have head restraints that are adjustable. However, they are only effective when the driver or passenger takes the time to adjust them properly.

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