Whiplash Woes - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Whiplash Woes

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Every 17 seconds in the U.S. a car gets rear-ended. Even at very low speeds, the result can be whiplash--the painful injury when your head snaps forward and then back. A good headrest design can help you avoid injury, but a surprising number of vehicles offer inadequate protection.

To test how well front head restraints work, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looks at how they perform in a 20-mph crash. The actual testing is done on a sled. It turns out the front restraints on two-thirds of the cars tested don't offer great protection.

Consumer Reports finds protection for rear passengers is also not very good. The restraints should be at least 29 and 1/2 inches high. And there should be a headrest for the person in the middle--something many cars don't have.

Even good head restraints won't work well unless properly adjusted. It should be as close as possible to the furthest center part of your head. Adjust either the head restraint, if it is capable of tilting, or the seatback angle so that you are still comfortable, but as close to the head restraint as possible. Good restraints properly adjusted could save you from whiplash if you're ever rear-ended.

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