Road safety

Adjusting head restraints

You may not think of a head restraint as a safety device, but it can reduce your risk of soft-tissue injury in a crash.

A correctly adjusted head restraint can help to prevent soft-tissue neck and back injuries—also called whiplash—during a crash. These are the most common type of injuries in motor vehicle crashes. Research shows that vehicles with well-designed, properly adjusted head restraints can reduce injures in rear-impact crashes by 24 to 44 per cent.

Position it right

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. Make sure the top of the head restraint is at least level with the top of your head.

  2. Position the head restraint so it's 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, which include head restraint effectiveness, visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety vehicle ratings.