Can seat design reduce the risk of whiplash in a car accident? Is it possible for motorists to protect themselves and their passengers from these types of injuries? Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries and it is estimated that each year nearly 3 million people suffer this injury. While it isn't possible to prevent all injuries, seat design and the positioning of the headrest can help alleviate the risk.
Whiplash Injury Statistics
Severe whiplash takes on average 17 weeks to stabilize. Of those who suffer a serious injury, 75% experience symptoms that last 6 months or longer. For nearly 20% of patients, it can take 1 to 2 years to fully recover normal function. However, it is important to note that nearly 50% of people whose conditions become chronic can have whiplash symptoms that last 20 years or longer.
It is estimated that approximately 9% of Americans suffer chronic neck pain following a low-speed rear impact motor vehicle accident. Studies conducted in England around the millennium determined that approximately 7% of those who suffer whiplash symptoms are unable to return to work following their injury. This data highlights the long-term impact on income and quality of life that many whiplash survivors experience.
The Importance of Head Restraints
In 1969, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandated that front seats in motor vehicles have head restraints. In recent years, this mandate has been expanded to require manufacturers to install restraints that are 5 cm behind the head and of sufficient height to provide protection for the average sized cranium.
There are two types of head restraints. In some, the head restraint and the seat move forward when a collision is detected. This moves the seat closer to the individual and thus limits the amount of distance the head has to travel before making contact with the head rest. In other vehicles, the seat is built to sink down as the seatbelt constricts. This too reduces the back-and-forth motion of the head which causes whiplash injuries. With both designs, it is crucial for drivers and passengers to properly adjust the head restraint and seat belt when they get into the vehicle.
Choose Children's Car Seats Carefully
Young children, and especially those under the age of 5, are at significant risk of suffering a whiplash injury in a motor vehicle accident. The size of the head and the fragility of the developing spinal column make these injuries particularly common.
Choosing a rear-facing car seat can help protect the child from whiplash during a frontal collision. Similarly, a rear-facing car seat will protect the child in a rear-end collision as it will absorb the force of the impact. This is crucial as crash test studies have shown that when the child is in a forward facing car seat, it's the child's neck and back that absorbs this impact.
As the child matures and grows, switching to a forward facing child seat with an appropriate head rest is the right move. Until the child is at least 135 cm tall, they should always ride in the car seat.
Call in the Bull to help you recover compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys can help you secure the funds you need to treat your whiplash symptoms. You can call us at 1-800-241-BRAD, or call us on or local line at 316-684-4400 to speak with an attorney. You can reach Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can call Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237. You can call from Western Kansas at 620-THE-BULL.