Everyone knows whiplash is a common injury in car accidents but not so many people are aware of how serious the symptoms can be and how important it is to take steps to prevent it.
The main cause of whiplash is car accidents. It is typically associated with rear-end collisions although this isn’t always the case. Slips and falls can also cause whiplash injury and boxers and rugby players are at risk.
In the situation of a motor collision, whiplash occurs when the vehicle moves forward quickly causing the seat to push into your back while your neck and head continue moving back. Usually, the head will be stopped by the head restraint on your seat but if this isn’t adjusted correctly, it could do some serious damage to the muscles in the neck.
In severe cases, symptoms can last over a year and sometimes force sufferers to stop working or even carrying out simple daily activities. Because of this prolonged pain, many long term sufferers are diagnosed with depression.
Following some basic advice on how to adjust your car’s seat and head restraint could mean avoiding whiplash altogether or at least reducing the damage caused to your neck if you are unlucky enough to be in a crash. These five steps will help you be ready:
- Get your seat in the correct position
Safety experts recommend that your driver’s seat should be adjusted so the back rest is at a 100 degree angle to the seat. This slight incline will make sure you stay in the seat in the event of a collision, while providing support for your lower back.
- Line your head restraint up to the top of your head
Every car’s head restraints are different so there is no single rule for how it should be positioned exactly. However, the general rule that is agreed upon is that the top of the restraint should be as close to the height of the top of your head as possible.
- Find the rigid part
If you push on your head restraint with your fingers, you may notice that the middle is more rigid and the top more spongey. The rigid part should be positioned in line with your eyes or the top of your ears in order to reduce the impact of a collision.
- Check the restraint is close enough
Crash testing suggests that a head restraint that is close enough to the back of your head is twice as effective in preventing whiplash as one that is poorly positioned. While the back of your head shouldn’t actually be touching the restraint, it should be no more than 5 centimetres or 2 inches away. The less distance your head travels following a collision, the less time it has to build up speed, therefore reducing the force of the impact.
- Make sure your seat belt is fitting correctly
As long as your seat is set up correctly, the seat belt will do its job by keeping you in your seat. Check where the belt sits on your body when you buckle up. If the horizontal strap stretches across your stomach, you should move the seat up so the belt will catch on your pelvis in the event of a crash, keeping you in the seat better and protecting your neck.
Taking the time to follow these simple steps to get your vehicle ready for any possibility is very important. Not underestimating the effects of whiplash by following this advice will give you every chance of escaping an accident with nothing more than minor strains. However, if you are unlucky enough to sustain a whiplash injury that affects life, there is help available to you. A specialist solicitor could help you claim whiplash compensation that could cover expensive physio costs and time off work.