Whiplash is a type of injury that mainly affects the neck. It occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the neck is sprained due to a sudden movement of the head. Many people associate this injury with car accidents and are right to do so as this is a common occurrence in victims of collisions. It can, however, also be caused by playing contact sports such as boxing and rugby and nasty slips and falls.
When a road traffic is to blame, whiplash usually occurs when the vehicle you’re in moves forwards suddenly causing the car seat to force your back in the same direction while your head continues moving the opposite way. The head restraints in cars are designed to reduce the impact in this situation but it is up to the driver to ensure it is correctly adjusted.
Most people have heard of whiplash but how much do they actually know about it? The extent of the impact it can have on a victim’s life is not always realized. In some cases, the symptoms of severe whiplash can last beyond 12 months and leave sufferers unable to work or carry out simple day-to-day activities.
Because of this debilitating effect, it is not uncommon for patients to experience symptoms of depression as well as memory loss, hearing damage and difficulty concentrating.
For whiplash patients who are forced to deal with these awful consequences of an accident that wasn’t their fault, there is help available. Experienced specialist solicitors such as Your Legal Friend can help victims claim compensation for financial damages such as lost earnings and expensive physio treatment bills.
Despite this, you can significantly reduce the impact of whiplash in a collision by getting your vehicle’s seat and head restraint in the optimum position for safety. The following set of simple steps will help you get your car ready.
Position Your Seat Correctly
First things first, crash testing suggests that 100 degrees is the best angle to have your car seat fixed at. This is the perfect incline to keep you in your seat in the event of a crash, while your lower back is also supported. This rule applies equally to the passenger side seat.
Line Up The Rigid Part
Usually, the middle of the head restraint will feel slightly more rigid than the top and bottom which will feel spongier when you push on it. The advice to positioning this rigid part, which will support the head in a collision, is to position it so that it lines up with your eyes or the top of your ears.
Find The Correct Height
Head restraints vary from car to car so there’s no one-size-fits-all rule for them. Your car’s head restraint may be part of the body of the seat and therefore not adjustable. If you are able to adjust the restraint, the general rule is to get the top in line with the top of your head.
Make Sure It’s Not Too Far Away
Tests by experts have demonstrated that a head restraint that is too far from the back of the head, can double the chances of the driver sustaining a whiplash injury. This makes it very important to ensure the restraint is close enough in your car. It is normal for your head not to touch the restraint when you sit in the driver’s seat.
However, it should be no further 5 centimeters (2 inches) away. The reason this step can be crucial is that when the head moves backward in a crash, it has less distance to travel before coming into contact with the restraint. It has less time to build up velocity resulting in a reduced impact.
Check Your Seat Belt
While the adjusting of your head restraint is undoubtedly the most important aspect of whiplash prevention, your seat belt also has a part to play. When you buckle up, have a look at where the belt rests on your body. The horizontal belt should stretch across the top of your pelvis.
The reasoning behind this advice is that if you are involved in an accident, the seat belt will pull on your pelvis and keep you firmly in the seat reducing the chance of damage to your neck. If the seat belt stretches horizontally across your stomach, you will need to move the seat upwards.
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