Noel headrest car seat not a comfort itembut is integrated into the passive safety elements of the vehicle, such as the seat belt or the airbag.
And as the DGT remembers, its correct placement It is essential to avoid or minimize cervical injuries as much as possible, derived from the whip effect in case of reach: what is known as whiplash.
What is a headrest and what types are there
This cushion that sits on top of the seat It’s not for us to lay our heads while we drive. In fact, it should never be done because it will lose its effect of protecting us from a cervical injury.
Do you properly use the #headrest?
We remind you that it is another security element.
Together, your best life insurance.
— Director General Traffic (@DGTes) June 19, 2022
It is therefore a mandatory passive safety element for several decades and must be approvedfulfilling a series of characteristics in terms of shape, materials, size or anchors.
The headrests today can be of two types:
- Passives: they are the most common, and are either integrated into the structure of the seat, and can be adjusted, or form a single piece with the seat, such as the sports or bucket type. If they are placed correctly (in the case of the adjustable ones), they will do their job correctly.
- active or smart: more modern and less numerous (Volvo models o BMW equip it for instance). In his case they are automatically activated in a collision, usually a rear reach, holding the head. They do this by means of a pressure plate that is located in the backrest and a system of springs, which cause the headrest to automatically move up and forward, protecting the head and neck movement.
How should it be placed and adjusted?
The headrest will be fulfilling its function if you stop the movement of the head harmlessly in the event of a crash.
For example in a rear impact (reach the head will move backwards and forwards and in a frontal impact it moves first downwards and then backwards. In both cases the neck hyperflexes and hyperextensions.
And to minimize these movements, which occur violently with an impact, the headrest must be well placed in all squares or, if not, it will not do any good:
- head distance: it must be about 4.0 cm from the head, thus leaving this gap between it and said cushion.
- Height: it must be adjusted so that the center of gravity of the head (ie the height of the eyes) coincides with the resistant part of the headrest. That is to say that the upper edge of this element must be between the top of the head and the height of the eyes.
- Insured: when we regulate it, we must check that it is locked in that position. What is appreciated when we hear a “click” that indicates that it has been adjusted and fixed in it, as occurs with the seat.
- Back: To achieve that 4.0 cm of separation with the head, the inclination of the seat back helps, which should never be more than 25 degrees.
- buckled belt: for the headrest to cushion the movement of the head in the event of a crash, it is also vital that we are properly fastened with the belt. In fact, making use of this element is mandatory in all places (except professionals in the city) and not wearing it fastened carries a fine of 200 euros and the subtraction of four points from the card.
Leaving the headrest in its lowest position can aggravate cervical injuries, since it will not receive the head, stopping its oscillation after the impact. According to the RACC98% of cervical injuries are caused by traffic accidents.
What is whiplash
When a rear reach occurs, the head performs a strong rocking motion of the neck which can cause serious injuries to the cervical vertebrae.
It is what is known as whiplash and can occur at speeds above 10 km/h, being therefore very frequent in case they hit our car from behind. However, in the case of frontal or side crashes, making the head restraint well positioned also minimizes damage.
Between the injuries that vertical whiplash can cause we find neck stiffness and pain (minor), but also more serious ones such as small internal bleeding, herniated discs, torn ligaments, or even serious neurological problems and tetraplegia.
Although this effect is more pronounced in the front seats, it also occurs in the rear. That is why the headrest must be adjusted correctly according to the height of the occupant also in the rear seat, especially if it is elderly people, with more muscle or bone problems.