Our cars come equipped with multiple features that are meant to protect us in case of an accident. One very important feature is your car’s headrest. Knowing its proper placement and how you can use it in the event of an accident could protect you from sustaining an injury in a crash!
The primary function of the headrest in your vehicle is to prevent a cervical injury in the event of an accident. The most common injury in any accident is whiplash, which is the result of your cervical spine (aka your neck) coming out of alignment with your spine as a result of blunt force. That is why it is imperative that you position your headrest appropriately for your height!
According to Consumer Reports, “To work well, the top of the restraint should reach at least as high as the top of your ears, and preferably the top of your head, and be relatively close—4 inches or less—to the back of your head.”
A headrest that is too low or too far back will not protect your head and neck in the event of a crash, and in fact could cause more damage, depending on impact.
Here are a few tips beyond positioning to help your headrest help you in the event of a crash:
Sit upright while driving. If you are leaning to one side or the other during a crash, your headrest might not protect you as well because of its position. Try to always sit up straight while driving.
Make contact with your headrest. If you sense a car is about to rear end you or you are about to get into an accident, lean back and position your head against the headrest.
Adjust your seat belt. According to AAA, "The shoulder belt should lie across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not near the neck or face. The lap belt should fit low and snug on the hips and upper thighs, not across the belly.”
As an added bonus, most headrests are easily removable as well. Even though it was not designed for this purpose, you can use the prongs of your headrest to break a window in the event you become trapped in your vehicle.
We suggest getting familiar with all of your car’s safety features before you hit the road. And remember to adjust those safety settings each time someone new drives your vehicle so that everyone is protected in the event of a crash!