Heads Up For A Safer Journey

We tend to call them headrests, but they have a proper title: head restraints.

And they have an important, if unglamorous, safety role - they protect the driver, and the passengers from a potentially nasty injury.

The problem with calling them headrests is that it makes them sound like some sort of comfort zone for drivers.

During the last 40 years a lot of work has been done to improve passive safety features in the car, from crumple zones to air bags. And if used properly, head restraints can be an important addition.

But there’s the rub: quite often they are ignored. In a recent survey just six per cent of drivers were found to check their head restraint before beginning their journey, or demonstrate that they knew the correct position.

We should take a moment before each journey to check that the top of the head restraint is level with the top of your head. Too high is as bad as too low.

Encourage your passengers to do likewise. A correctly-positioned head restraint may save you, and them, nasty injuries.

In the UK the single most common crash is the rear collision. Many rear impact accidents result in a neck or spinal injury. The head restraint plays a key role in protecting you from injuries, particularly whiplash.

You also need to remember that head restraints can impair vision to the rear, and so should make sure when manoeuvring and reversing that they are not obstructing you.

Not all headrestraints are adjustable, but where they are, take care to ensure that they are placed high enough to stop the neck going backwards in the event of a collision. The head restraint should be level with the top of the head for maximum safety. Remember, it is there for your safety, not to help you nod off at the wheel!

22 April 2006 Staff

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