Our Northwest

Good head restraints reduce injuries 11%

Thursday, November 12, 2015by  Jon Osterberg

A new study confirms that properly configured head restraints reduce injury claims by 11%, according to the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
     PEMCO is proud to have played a foundational role in IIHS’s early head-restraint research in 1993.
     That summer, PEMCO donated two full-size Oldsmobiles that IIHS used in crash tests at its research center in Ruckersville, Virginia. Scientists set the head restraints properly in one car and improperly in the other, then staged rear-end collisions to gauge the impact on high-tech dummies.
     The crash tests yielded valuable data on whiplash injuries.
     PEMCO took the video from those tests and created the first-ever TV commercials to educate motorists about how to properly adjust head restraints. The ads first aired in August 1993 on Spokane and Seattle TV stations.
     Seattle’s KING-TV also sent a camera crew to Virginia to cover the crash tests for a feature in its “Our Times” news magazine show.
     “As far as we know, there’s never been a TV campaign warning about the risks of improperly adjusted head restraints,” IIHS’s vice president of communications said in 1993.
     In the 1990s, adjustable head restraints were common in cars. Danger arose when occupants set them too low: In a rear-end crash, restraints served as a fulcrum, stretching and bending the neck away from the torso. The solution: Raise restraints no lower than your ears. (Today, IIHS advises that the top of the restraint be even with the top of your head.)
     Head-restraint design has improved vastly since then. Today they’re built higher and closer to the back of people’s heads.
     IIHS reported last week, “A decade ago, more than half of the seats/head restraints IIHS evaluated were rated poor and only 9% were rated good. Now, 95% of 2015 models are rated good, and none are rated poor.”
     The drivers enjoying the largest reductions in injury rates are those 25-44 and 46-64 years old. Read the IIHS Status Report article.

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