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Head restraint adjustment

You may not think of a head restraint as a safety device, but it can reduce your risk of being injured in a crash.

A correctly adjusted head restraint can help to prevent soft-tissue neck and back injuries—also called whiplash—in a collision. More than 65 per cent of people injured in a crash report soft-tissue injury to their neck and/or back, so it’s smart to protect yourself. Studies show that vehicles with well-designed head restraints can reduce injuries in rear-impact crashes by 22 to 44 per cent.  

What to look for

When it’s correctly positioned, your head restraint will prevent your head and neck from jolting backwards on impact. Here's what to do for the best protection.  

  1. The top of the head restraint is at least level with the top of your head.
  2. The head restraint is as close to the back of your head as possible.  You may need to adjust the back of the seat.

Be sure your passengers adjust their head restraints correctly too.

Setting the standard

ICBC was a leader in helping to build a better head restraint. In 1995, ICBC developed the Head Restraint Measurement Device (HRMD), in collaboration with RONA Kinetics, to provide consistent measurements for seat and head restraint design.

The HRMD is now used as the standard for geometric ratings for vehicle head restraints and to date, there are more than 300 HRMDs in use around the world by major vehicle manufacturers, seat suppliers and test houses.

For more information

To find vehicle safety ratings, including head restraint effectiveness, visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety vehicle ratings.

To learn more about preventing whiplash, visit the Whiplash Prevention Campaign