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 Whiplash - Myths & Facts

Common Myths

Only expensive vehicles have quality head restraints.

False. Over 60% of vehicles on the market in all price ranges have good rated head restraints. Some very expensive cars have poor rated head restraints.

All new vehicles have good head restraints.

False. New head restraint regulation has improved the minimum height standards for vehicles, however these minimum standards are based on the 50th percentile males, and crash tests have shown some head restraint designs perform better than others.

All vehicles made by a manufacturer have the same head restraints (quality and safety characteristics.

False. Most manufacturers have a variety of head restraints for different models and years with different safety characteristics.

To find out about the quality of your head restraint you need to know the make, model and year. Use our Rate My Car Tool to rate the quality of your vehicle’s head restraint.

Whiplash Overview

Current research has found that up to 35% of all neck sprains from whiplash that last more than six weeks could be prevented or reduced if people purchased or leased vehicles with better quality head restraints and adjusted them appropriately.

Whiplash injuries can result in pain and decreased movement in the head and neck and may include headaches, dizziness and tingling in the arms. These symptoms may last for weeks or months, but sometimes they last longer. Exactly what happens physically to produce whiplash symptoms is unknown. However, current research shows that serious neck injuries can be prevented or reduced by people purchasing vehicles with good head restraints and positioning them correctly.

Whiplash injuries account for more than 65% of all bodily injury claims. In Canada, whiplash injuries account for 2 million in insurance claims each year, at a cost of approximately $8.5 billion. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) estimates that, in British Columbia alone, the economic cost exceeds $600 million per year. Current research shows that the majority of people do not adjust their head restraints.

Prevention is Key

When adjusted properly, head restraints can be very effective in
preventing whiplash injuries.

  • Raise the head restraint so the top is level or above the top of the
    person’s head
  • Position the head restraint to be close to the back of the head
    (almost touching)
  • Adjust the seat back angle into a relatively upright position. This allows the head restraint to be positioned closer to the back of the head. A head restraint is less effective if there is a large gap between the head and the head restraint. This gap means the head can move and extend, increasing the risk of injury.

Business and Disability Prevention

Whiplash, whether occurring at work or recreational driving, is a tremendous personal and social economic burden resulting in unnecessary pain and suffering, work absenteeism, reduced work productivity with downstream effects on family life and community engagement.

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How to Adjust your Head Restraint

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