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Two thirds of drivers risk neck injury

  • Drivers fail to positon head restraints correctly
  • Two thirds of drivers rarely or never check
  • No increase in awareness in five years

Company car drivers could be risking serious injury by failing to check their head restraints are correctly positioned, according to research by a road safety charity

Brake teamed up with Direct Line insurance to poll drivers on their head restraints and found two thirds of drivers don't know how to position head restraints to maximise safety in a crash, while a similar number rarely or never bother to check.

Some drivers believed the top of the head restraint should be level with the neck or ears, but only one in three drivers stated correctly that the top of the head restraint should be level with the top of the head.

This position helps protect the head and prevent it 'hyper-extending' backwards in a crash, potentially breaking it or resulting in other severe injuries.

Only one in seven drivers said they check the position of head restraints regularly, but analysing the results for those who knew the correct position the study found only six per cent of drivers actually checked AND knew the correct position.

Brake and Direct Line carried out similar research five years ago, and found this percentage hadn't changed, leading to calls for a campaign to increase awareness.

Mary Williams OBE, Brake chief executive said: 'Even if drivers did regularly check their head restraint, the research shows us that most drivers wouldn't have a clue whether it was correct or not, which largely explains why they don't bother.

'There needs to be a major awareness-raising campaign on this life-saving, simple measure we can all take. Incorrect head restraints result in death, permanent disability, and in the more minor cases excruciating back and neck pain.

'Yet it only takes a couple of seconds to check and adjust your restraint and those of other occupants in your vehicle.'

Top tips on adjusting your head restraint from Brake:

  • If you don't have a head restraint or an inadequate one that doesn't reach the top of your head, change your car as your neck isn't protected.
  • Adjust your seat so it is upright, not in a reclined position, allowing the head restraint to be as close to the back of your head as possible, ideally touching it. This might mean also moving your seat backwards, away from the steering wheel.
  • Adjust your head restraint so its top is level with the top of your head.
  • Ensure the head restraint is securely fastened and won't fall down.
  • If your head restraint is broken, get it fixed.
  • Ensure everyone else in your car has their head restraint appropriately positioned for them. Check all children have a restraint behind their heads that is either part of their child seat or, if they are taller than 150cm, on the main car seat.