Car Headrests & Why They Are Very Important

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By sitting in any car nowadays you’ll probably end up resting your head on the headrest by default. But what headrests for? Do they provide some type of safety feature, or are they there merely to make your head and neck more comfortable on longer drives? 

Table of Contents

Headrests actually play more of a pivotal role than you might think.

Are Headrests Necessary in a Car Seat?

Range Rover SV 'Lansdowne Edition' front seat headrest
Range Rover SV ‘Lansdowne Edition’ front seat headrest

Before the 1960s, headrests were optional in cars and were mainly reserved for luxury cars as comfort features. But in 1969, headrests became a standard safety feature as they were proven to prevent injuries by five to 10 per cent. So technically, yes, you do need headrests in any car as they now come standard, but they can also prevent a lot of injuries as well.

What Injuries Do Car Seat Headrests Prevent?

The main purpose of a headrest is to prevent whiplash for all of the occupants. After all, there’s a reason that there are headrests at every seating position in a car and, best of all, they are adjustable to cater to almost everyone’s height requirements. Whiplash can occur when a person’s head snaps, or whips, back unexpectedly and suddenly during a car collision.

Whiplash can lead to sudden effects like neck stiffness, decreased range of movement in a person’s neck, and even soft-tissue injuries. Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing, headaches, dizziness, and memory loss. 

Considering headrests can play an important role in preventing whiplash injuries, we can see why they are an important part of a car’s interior and seat configuration and also why they are referred to as “head restraints.”

The Position of Car Seat Headrest

In order to gain the best protection from a whiplash injury, the position of your headrest is important. A poorly positioned headrest can actually lead to more serious injuries, so here are a couple of tips to set up your headrest properly.

  • The top of the headrest should be positioned at the top of your head. If the headrest is lower than the top of your ears, then your head could be thrown back over the headrest in the event of a collision.
  • Your head should also be around 5-10 centimetres from the headrest as the farther away it is, the greater the distance your head will travel and hit the headrest during a collision.

Other Ways to Prevent Whiplash

While proper headrest etiquette and positioning are essential, there are other ways to prevent a whiplash injury in the event of any car accident. They include:

  • Raising your headrest
  • Always wear a seatbelt. It helps to keep you in a more upright position and keep you safer in an accident.
  • Sitting up straight and focusing while you drive is a great way to prevent an accident in the first place.
  • Don’t tailgate other cars. One of the easiest ways to get into an accident and get whiplash is to tailgate the car in front of you. Don’t do it.


Headrests are an essential feature in every vehicle’s car seat. Always ensure that the car you’re buying comes with one, as it has a lot of safety benefits.

Written by Amaefule Precious

A content writer with experience across various niches, and one of them includes interest in writing about cars.

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