Correct Car Headrest Adjustment

How To Correctly Adjust Your Car Headrest To Minimise Whiplash Injury

In the interests of promoting public safety and awareness of the risks of whiplash injury, we have created this poster – because correct headrest positioning plays a larger part in accidents than people think!

car headrest infographic

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What Is Wrong With My Car Headrest Positioning?

A majority of people don't realise that their car headrest was designed to be positioned in a very particular way. More importantly, many people don't realise that a headrest is not primarily intended to be comfortable, it is intended to protect you.

Headrests are named as an abbreviation of "head restraint", and should be treated appropriately. Position your head restraint so that it can restrain your head in the case of an accident.

Your head needs to be restrained in the event of an accident because it may, otherwise, move backwards and forwards in a manner that is likely to cause whiplash.

Correct Car Headrest Positioning

A car headrest can, and should, be positioned in a particular optimal way. Most people position the headrest so they can lean back and rest their head directly on the headrest – while this is understandable, it is not how the device is supposed to be used.

Instead, the headrest should be positioned tilted towards your head, so that the middle of the headrest is just about level with the middle of your head. The "middle" of your head is roughly where your eyes and ears are. It should also be positioned around two inches away from the back of your head, and certainly no further than four inches away.

To ensure that it is useful, you should sit up straight. Taller drivers and shorter drivers may be unable to use the standard car headrest in this way – this is unfortunate, and may increase your chance of a whiplash injury. You should consider using a third party headrest (if you are taller) or add extra support to your chair at your head height (if you are shorter). Taller and shorter drivers are, in general, at greater risk of whiplash injuries in a car crash – this is partly because it is harder to position the headrest appropriately. Drivers of an average height are significantly safer from injury, and should follow these guidelines to make sure they are taking advantage of that fact.

Positioning the headrest below your head will not protect you from whiplash, as your neck will still "whip" backwards and forwards over the headrest.

Don't Be Intimidated

All the information both here and in our informational poster might seem like a lot to take onboard, but don't worry too much. Any headrest at all is better than no headrest, with studies showing that a headrest can reduce the chances of head injury by 43%. If you are simply using your headrest in any way, that is hugely important for your safety.

Further Information

If you have recently been in a car crash and are interested in how much compensation you could receive, please visit our average whiplash compensation page.

If you would like to learn more about how whiplash works, we have a number of posts discussing how the relative risk of whiplash changes based on various whiplash factors. Or if you want to know more about the jargon used within the whiplash industry, check out our whiplash glossary.

Finally, if you still want to know more about whiplash, or want to pursue a claim, get in touch using our free claim enquiry form for a prompt and professional response.

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