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Prevention of whiplash injury

A bump in a car travelling at just 5mph could result in a whiplash injury but a properly positioned head restraint could prevent this. Read more about common causes of whiplash injury.

Head restraints are the extensions on top of our car seats, what many of us think of as headrests. They were designed to restrict head movement during a rear impact collision and, in so doing, prevent whiplash injury.

But, according to the Real-World Head Restraint usage survey (1999), a massive 72% of us have been driving around with our head restraints in the wrong position and more recent research has shown that three in four still have head restraints that are incorrectly positioned.

What is the right position for a head restraint?

The head restraint is not designed to provide comfort on long journeys but is meant to protect your head and neck.

As many as two thirds of all drivers are unaware of the position their head restraint should be in. In addition, only 6% of drivers check their head restraints before each journey and know how to properly adjust them:

There should be no more than 2 inches between the back of your head and the restraint; the closer the better without pushing your head forwards.

The head restraint should be pulled upwards so that the top lies somewhere between the top of your ears and the top of your head.

Types of head restraints

There are three main types of head restraints on the market:

The dynamic head restraint system is most effective when it comes to protecting you from whiplash injury during a car crash. They are designed to deploy automatically when an accident occurs, reducing the whiplash motion of the head and torso that can cause damage to the neck muscles and ligaments. Another key feature is their revolutionary seatbacks which provide extra support to the head and torso in the event of sudden impact.

Volvo and Saab have led the way with dynamic head restraint systems and have incorporated them into their vehicles over the past few years:

Saab's Active Head restraint system (SAHR)

The SAHR uses leverage and consists of a padded restraint that is connected to a pressure plate within the seatback. It is designed so that the torso will make impact with the seatback during a rear-end collision, exerting force on the plate. This will send the head restraint up and forward so that it catches the occupant's head before the whiplash motion has a chance to commence.

Saab seatbacks also often feature crossbars and shock absorbent padding designed to soak up the crash energy and cradle the occupants' torso, reducing differential movement between the head and torso.

A study by the Journal of Trauma revealed that SAHR reduces the risk of Whiplash Associated Disorders by as much as 75%. It also has the added benefit of not needing repair to restore it to operational condition following activation. After most crashes, the SAHR will return to its initial position immediately.

Volvo's Whiplash Injury Prevention System (WHIPS)

The Volvo's WHIPS features a hinge at the base of its seatback to reduce acceleration of the occupant's torso. This hinge yields and partially rotates allowing the seatback to move rearward, reducing the forward motion of the torso

It also has a head restraint which is fixed high and close to the head. This is designed to catch the head during an accident and enables it to move forward with the torso and reduce the whiplash motion.

Whiplash prevention - front and back seat

Although it is more likely for front seat passengers to receive whiplash injuries it is still possible for those sitting in the back to also experience pain and suffering. Read more about signs and symptoms of whiplash injury.

The following vehicles not only offer dynamic head restraint systems but they also offer rear seat head restraints, providing more protection for back seat passengers from whiplash injury:

Protection from whiplash injury in motor sports

When travelling at such dangerously high speeds it is necessary for Formula One racing drivers to be protected by premium safety features. In the event of a crash a racing driver may be thrown around violently inside his car and this could cause a serious whiplash injury. This is why specialist preventative systems such as the HANS system are now fitted into Formula One cars as standard.

HANS stands for the Head And Neck Support system. It consists of a carbon collar which is connected securely to the upper body with straps that also attach it to the driver's helmet. The HANS is designed to prevent the head from being thrown forward in an accident and has proven to be extremely successful.

Prevention of whiplash injury - Hope for the future

With such modern advancements in the world of car safety it is thought that it will be just a matter of time before a HANS-type system is introduced as standard in all cars. As a result, thousands of whiplash injuries suffered in the UK every year will be significantly cut down.

Making a whiplash injury claim today

If you have been involved in a non-fault accident that has caused you to sustain a whiplash injury then you may be entitled to make a whiplash injury compensation claim.

We can help you to claim for pain and suffering, loss of earnings and medical costs. We may also be able to arrange for you to receive top medical treatment in your area. Read more about types of compensation.

Our personal injury solicitors have a fantastic success rate and work on a no win no fee basis. This means that our clients don't pay a penny in up front costs.  What's more, if you lose your case, you won't pay anything at all.  No win, no fee, is exactly what it sounds like. Read more about no win no fee whiplash injury claims.

To begin the claim process today, just fill out one of our online assessment forms or give us a call on 0800 197 32 32.