How To Adjust Head Restraints Correctly

An easily forgotten safety component of your car, the head restraint may seem somewhat superficial, but in an accident they could be the difference between a slightly sore neck and a broken one. In the following post, we’ll go over some of the finer details about one of the more forgotten features in your car to ensure your motoring experience is as safe as it can be.

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Close up of car head restraint/headrest above a seat

What are car head restraints for? 

The headrest is designed to limit the movement of your head and neck in an accident. You’ll be surprised just how much your neck can move in an impact – and a properly adjusted head restraint can keep this movement to a minimum, protecting you from whiplash or a potentially life-changing injury.

How should your headrest be adjusted in a car?

A properly adjusted headrest could sit between you and a neck injury in the event of an incident, so here’s a simple guide to keep you in the safest position. Make sure the top of the headrest is in line with the top of your head and that the entire restraint is as close to your head as possible.

If adjustments need to be made, you will notice a small button at the bottom of the restraint legs, by pressing this in you should be able to freely move the rest up and down. Move it to the desired position and safely secure it with one of the teeth on the restraint, if fitted. If possible, tilt the restraint so it is as close to your head as possible.

Should your head touch the car headrest?

Your headrest should sit as close to your head as possible, and if it’s possible to be touching your head, that’s even better. If you’re unable to tilt the position of the head restraint then you may find that bringing the seat more upright may help – remembering that your own comfort is also an important factor in the safety of your driving position.

Why is it important that your head restraint is adjusted correctly?

A correctly adjusted headrest can stop you from suffering from the effects of whiplash in an accident. Whiplash has gained a reputation as something easy to claim for, hard to prove, often earning the nickname ‘whipcash’, but it can be a very serious injury. It’s not just limited to ‘big’ accidents, though. Most whiplash injuries occur from low-speed, rear-end collisions and are as a result of the hyperextension of the neck. This extension can be stopped earlier by a properly adjusted headrest.

Can you drive without headrests?

There is nothing that says you have to have headrests fitted in your car, so technically yes, you can drive without headrests. But should you? That’s probably the more pertinent question, and the obvious answer is no. Removing or driving without headrests is a simple way of putting your body in even more danger in the event of an accident, so it’s not worth the risk.

Is it illegal to remove a headrest from a car? 

There is no law in the UK that states it is illegal to remove the headrest from a car, and there is no check on the MOT that would cover this area. The rule is different elsewhere, for example it would be illegal to remove your headrests in the United States as it would be in direct contravention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

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