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New Head Restraints – Safety, Torture, or Both?

Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,014
Head restraints are designed today for safety, but people can’t stand them and either ditch the car or lean their seat back to compensate, which defeats the safety purpose. How are the head restraints on your vehicle? Comfy or a pain in the neck?

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Comments

  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,993
    Seems when Honda started putting them in the Civic people were pulling them out or turning them around. They made driving very uncomfortable. All to satisfy some safety nut in the Government.
  • You definitely know that its they're there but it's not a big hindrance for my wife and I. I'm 6' tall and the wife is 5' 5". I the best advice that I can give is that the seat adjustment makes a big difference on the interaction with the head rest.
  • jlcjlc Posts: 30
    I think they are fine, However I did remove the rear seat ones, if I have rear seat passengers it's easy to put them in..

    JLC
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,328
    How are they to be removed? One salesman tried to accomodate wife's comfort zone by reversing them and could not pull them out.
  • I would blame the IIHS and the insurance industry in general not the gov't. They do work very well though and in the Volvos most people don't have a problem with them. The most common problem I see is women with big pony tales and the head rest hits their hair in just wrong way scrunching it into the back of their head.
  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,547
    If nothing else, you have to love the graffiti on the headrest. There's a biz opportunity there somewhere.

    "Those annoying headrests have aroused the ire of automotive journalists and the driving public alike. Ford, in particular, is finding a lot of haters."

    Why Are My Car's Headrests Driving Me Crazy?! (Edmunds Daily)

    image

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  • I own three recent Fords with three distinctly different headrests. The first is a 2002 Mustang with laughable headrests; I can lay my head back and look at the headliner. My 2007 Focus is at the opposite extreme; I can barely keep my head level, and the top of the headrest raps the back of my head with every bump; very annoying! And finally my 2005 F-150 has perfect headrests; cushioned and practically upright, there's enough room to actually rest your head comfortably (hence "head rest") but still enough rigidity to protect in a whiplash situation. Why can't ALL headrests be like this?
  • That's good to know, Greenpony!
  • Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,014
    Edmunds editor writing about head restraints (a.k.a. head rest) would like to email or speak with someone asap who drives a fairly late-model vehicle and who has suffered whiplash. Please send email to karen@edmunds.com if you fit that description and would like to talk.

    Community Manager If you have any questions or concerns about the Forums, send me an email, karen@edmunds.com, or click on my screen name to send a personal message.

  • Lil' safety and a lot of torture :mad:
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    There's no question in my mind that the head restraints in newer model cars permit less freedom of head movement than older models. I assume that this change enhances safety. However, depending on ones anatomy, it can also increase discomfort.

    I don't think any blanket statements can be made regarding the comfort of head restraints, or the comfort of one restraint versus another, because many variables come into play. In addition to peoples' anatomies; posture; individuals' tolerances, in terms of movement; the shape and contour of the seat; the amount of adjustment permitted; and the amount of time one spends in the car, all play a role in terms of comfort. What may be comfortable or tolerable for one individual may not apply to another.

    I wouldn't consider buying a car with uncomfortable head restraints, regardless of how safe it may be, and some of the restraints on newer cars are uncomfortable for me. I also think there's a correlation between safety and comfort. How safe are you, especially on a long drive, if you're uncomfortable?
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    The head rests in the Veracruz are adjustable, you can move them forward or backwards, but in the event of a crash, they move forward to prevent whiplash injuries. Why other car companies haven't done this is unknown. They only have them for the front seats due to the folding of the 2nd and 3rd rows.
  • nine51nine51 Posts: 78
    We recently bought a 2010 Subaru Outback Sport (Imprezza) . I absolutely hate the head restraints. I am 6 ft tall and stand and sit fairly straight up. When I drive, I like to have the seats reclined back so I am quite a ways back from the wheel and my arms are just slightly bent. In the OBS I have to recline the seat even farther back than normal or else the head restraint pushes my head to look down at the steering wheel. When I turn my head to check my blind spots, I get whacked in the face by the head restraint. There is little adjustment in the restraint, it only goes up and down. If I pull it out and reverse it in it's track, then it is so far back it would not give any protection in a rear-end crash. Until now, I hadn't realized there was a change in head restraint design and thought maybe it was only Subaru that has changed them. Reading this thread and checking out a few newer cars, it looks like most of them have gone to this madness. Is this another way the Government is trying to get us out of our cars? :)
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,328
    A few months ago I was offered a helluva deal on a 06 Mustang Convert 4.6L, AT with only 4,000 miles. Red with Tan interior. The wife flunked the headrest test and they couldn't be reversed. Who are these designed for?
  • No problems with my '06 Volvo S60. I'm 5'11" and SWMBO is 5'6" but neither of us experience any problems. We have a 6'4" friend who thinks the front seat is the best he's ever sat in. The head restraints are there should you need 'em, (God forbid), but don't intrude when you don't.............same comments for the rears. IIRC, the front restraints move forward in the event of a collision, to eliminate whiplash. No experience of that, (thankfully), and it's too cold to go outside to read the handbook.

    I've driven the new S60 and that's the same, (but with much better suspension).

    But.............they're head restraints, not head rests. In the same way that airbags are safety restraints not sleepy-time pillows.
  • nine51nine51 Posts: 78
    "But.............they're head restraints, not head rests. In the same way that airbags are safety restraints not sleepy-time pillows. "

    I was very specific to use the terms "head restraint" No, I do not think they are pillows to rest ones head on while driving. I don't like head "restraints" that intrude on my mobility in the drivers seat. Until this recent Subaru OBS, and a few rentals I have driven in the past couple of years (including one 2009 Subaru Outback) I have never had this much of a problem being comfortable in the drivers seat with head restraints that force my head too far forward. I would prefer to have at least an inch of space between the back of my head and the restraint, but with the new designs, I'm stuck with having my head right up against them most of the time,and I am one who reclines the seats pretty far back. I can see that some shorter people who don't or can't recline their seats back might really have a problem with these new head restraints.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    I agree with you.
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    They need to copy Hyundai's design, at least you can adjust the forward position to make them more comfortable, and in a crash they move forward for better protection. Since I learned how to use my mirrors from driving a semi, visibility around the headrestraint is a non issue, but I also find some are uncomfortable.
  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    My own head restraint is fine, but I have seen the problem in other models and it is real. Has anyone tried to modify the head restraint internally on a car they love otherwise? Its just foam inside and would appear to be reasonably easy to carve a new shape and then recover at an automotive upholsterer.
  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,547
    I didn't save the link, but someone around here took their headrests off and ran over them. Bent them just right. :)

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  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    Ran over them on purpose or in hindsight "I meant to do that"? :)
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,714
    Headrests are for wimps :shades:

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  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    My 09 subaru outback head restraints saved me tonight. I was stopped at a long red light and got slammed from behind. The kid driving an Impala said he was "going at least 60" when he hit me. I always keep a good distance between me and the car ahead of me at red lights, like 15', but this impact was so severe, it drove me into the jeep ahead of me and peeled back my hood to the windshield. It was so sudden I don't remember hitting the head restraint but I must have. The car is a no-doubt, easy-call total, but I was able to open my door and get out by myself. The car crumpled and sacrificed itself as designed to save me. It was too dark for pictures.
  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,547
    Oh jeeze, that's terrible. Bet you're still going to be sore even with the restraints. Hope you got checked out by a doc too. Dang, hate to hear that. :sick:

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  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    edited November 2010
    Thanks Steve,
    Yeah, I'm a bit sore and stiff with moving the head & neck, but will get checked out tomorrow just to be on the safe side. I hate to lose my beloved '09 subaru because I don't like the new ones, but I also felt sorry for the 22 year old kid who admitted it was entirely his fault. His dad came & wasn't happy with the kid, but accidents happen and nobody tries to do this, so I spoke to the dad and asked him to be gentle with his son because he already knows he made a mistake. I've got a son a few months older than this kid and I hope if he does something like this, somebody won't go off on him.

    I don't think the insurance company will want to rebuild this one. About the only things undamaged are the stereo and the roof racks.

    So now the question is to either replace it with something new & safe or some old depreciated junker that I won't love so much as my sweet subaru. I see accidents every day on my 110 mile commute and fatalities about once every 2-3 weeks, so its not a matter of "if" there's another wreck so much as "when" and "how bad". So far, my plan to win the lottery and quit the commute of carnage hasn't worked out.
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    Glad to hear you are OK. Cars have made major leaps forward in safety, if that car was 10 years older, chances are you would have had to be cut out of the car, and would be laid up in the hospital now. I know a lot of people complain about the head restraints, but as you experienced last night, a little discomfort can go a long way after seeing just what they can do for you. If the car was crushed front and rear, and glass was broken, then its a good chance it will be totaled, but in some cases cars can be rebuilt after a crash like that, all depends on what got bent.
  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,547
    With that commute, I'd want all the airbags I could get.

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  • morin2morin2 Posts: 399
    It could have been much worse. The kid admitted to 60mph+ but I see much higher speeds there, and I was completely stopped. About a mile from my wreck site is the only place where I have ever seen a severed head in the road from an accident about two years ago. Talk about your nightmare commute. So, yes, I am very grateful for modern car - subaru design.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,714
    Wow, what a nightmare, glad nobody was apparently very hurt. The fact that you were posting here so soon after is a testament to modern cars. An old car might have exploded or something from such an impact.

    Thinking of head restraints, the new style 5er I drove in Germany had the new style large somewhat forward oriented units - so just normally sitting, my head would rest on the headrest. It maybe made me a little too relaxed - it seemed I got drowsy on long drives as I was so supported by the seat - maybe not the best thing for 100+ mph driving.
  • steverstever Ex Yooper, just arrived in New MexicoPosts: 40,547
    edited November 2010
    Whatever happened to those "active" headrests that went forward when you got hit? Like an airbag, they stay out of the way until you need them.

    btw, any idea if the kid was texting, talking on a cell, spacing out to some tunes or just oblivious?

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