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Majority of drivers unaware of basic safety measures that could prevent whiplash

The report, carried out in partnership with Direct Line, finds that almost two-thirds of drivers (63%) don’t know the correct position a headrest should be in to help prevent serious injury in the event of a crash

And a similar amount, (64%) don’t always check their headrest before setting off on a long journey

The consequences of whiplash injuries have a huge impact on individuals and on society, with an estimated annual cost of some £7.5bn across Europe. Last month saw a government taskforce put forward a series of measures to tackle insurance fraud and cut down on whiplash claims.

Road safety charity Brake said that it’s important that the headrest is in the correct position to give as much protection from injury as possible in the event of a crash. Head restraints should be adjusted so the top is about level with the top of the head and right up against the back of the head, so the head won’t be able to fly backwards in a crash. If a head restraint is missing, wobbly, or too low, it won’t protect the neck from potentially debilitating whiplash injuries.

With many families and couples who are different heights sharing cars and driving duties it is important to check the driver and passengers headrests before each journey, if anyone is sitting in a different position from the last time the car was used. Crashes can happen even on the shortest journeys. A family with growing children will also need to regularly reassess the headrest height even if the young person always sits in the same seat.

Rob Miles, director of car insurance at Direct Line, said: “The headrest’s primary function may be confused as being one of comfort, when they are, in fact, an important safety feature – but only when used correctly. Whiplash can occur even in low-speed crashes, so adjusting your headrest correctly is a simple precaution worth taking.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.