Monday, October 24, 2016

Driver Safety Tip: Head Restraints

Toyota RAV4

A few of our family members were involved in an accident lately, and the good news is that they were checked out by doctors a few days later and don't have any injuries.  Unfortunately their Toyota was totaled. Since they were hit from behind while stopped in traffic, I thought it might be worth a moment of your time to talk about safety, and in this case, head restraint safety.

Back in the old days of automotive design, the seat you sat on was basically just that; a seat. I can remember the driver's seat of our family 1966 Mustang. It was basically a chair with a low back, and certainly the seat had no support above the shoulder. This type of seat would not be legal today, because car seats are required to have head restraints and provide protection from head and neck injuries. Let's just take a minute and talk about what a head restraint does for you.

First off, what's up with that name "head restraint?" Mostly, let's be clear that it's NOT a "head rest". It's not there for resting, comfort, sleeping, napping, etc. The head restraint is there so that if you are in an accident, your head is restrained from going backwards and causing serious injury.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has a lot of information, based on solid research, about auto safety. Specifically talking about neck injuries, here's the bottom line up front from them:

"Neck sprains and strains, commonly known as whiplash, are the most frequently reported injuries in U.S. insurance claims. In 2007, the cost of claims in which neck pain was the most serious injury was about $8.8 billion, or 25 percent of the total payout for crash injuries.
Head restraints help prevent whiplash. When a vehicle is struck from the rear, the seat back pushes against an occupant's torso and propels it forward. If the head is unsupported, it lags behind the torso until the neck reaches its limit, and the head suddenly whips forward. A good head restraint prevents this by moving an occupant's head forward with the body during a rear-end crash.
Head restraints should be properly adjusted. The top of the head restraint should be even with the top of the head or, if it won't reach, as high as it will go. The distance from the back of the head to the restraint should be as small as possible."

Be safe out there, and check those head restraints please!

Check out the IIHS website for more info on all types of auto safety:

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