Rear-end crashes are among the most common types of accidents in the United States, and many of these crashes can cause whiplash or other soft-tissue injuries to the back and neck. As a Consumer Reports article indicated, around two million claims are filed every single year as a result of whiplash, with about 200,000 of these claims considered serious enough that they result in long-term medical damage to the victim. Medical experts suggest that taller individuals are most susceptible to whiplash injuries, although anyone is at risk.
An experienced rear end accident lawyer in Kentucky knows that even a slow-speed rear-end crash can result in serious injuries like whiplash occurring. Consumer Reports says whiplash can happen when collisions occur with cars going as low as 10 miles per hour (MPH), and that head restraints in vehicles may be contributing to the problem since they don’t provide sufficient protection for consumers. Drivers and passengers should adjust head restraints to an appropriate position to reduce the risk of a whiplash injury in the event that they are rear-ended.
How to Reduce the Risk of a Serious Neck Injury
In 2004 and 2005, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that almost half of all front head restraints were rated “Poor” in preventing injury in rear-end accidents. Only 12 head rests were rated “Good.”
In response to these tests, dramatic improvements have been made in recent years. Federal standards tightened in 2005 to raise the minimum height for head restraints and to reduce the distance allowed between the front restraint and a driver or passenger’s head. This rule was phased in and manufacturers were required to comply by 2009. By 2012, 80 percent of head restraints were rated “Good.”
However, while a great deal of advancement has been made in improving the safety provided by front head restraints, restraints in the rear seats have not had the same level of focus in developing new technologies. As a result, a lot of cars have rear head restraints that are not as sophisticated as front restraints and, in many cars, there is not even a head restraint at all in the center back seat.
To be effective at keeping people safe, head restraints need to be able to be fixed at least 29.5 inches above the top of the cushion of the seat. The head restraint should be positioned about 3 inches or closer to the back of your head and so that it reaches up to your ears. Many head restraints are adjustable, which means that you can move your restraint until it is in the right position for you.
Head-restraint technology is also continuing to develop, including “active” head restraints that are designed to move forward and upwards in the event of an accident so that the restraint can catch your head when it is thrown forward. However, this technology is not necessarily guaranteed to prevent injury and the best way that you can ensure your head rest provides the maximum in protection is to adjust it according to the guidelines published by Consumer Reports.