Head Restraints – The Neglected Countermeasure

  • Published: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1999
  • Authors: B. O’Neill
  • Date Added: 04 Feb 2013
  • Last Update: 04 Feb 2013
  • Format: pdf


Review of methods to minimise the differential head/torso movement and reduce the resulting injuries, focusing on the necessary first step for prevention, which is a head restraint that is behind and close to the back of an occupant’s head during the RTI.


The history of head restraints since the 1950s is reviewed, with particular attention to advanced restraint designs that are proving effective in reducing whiplash injury risk in dynamic tests using a new RTI test dummy neck and a new neck injury criterion.

Key Findings:

Whiplash injuries from rear-end RTIs are common and, because of their prevalence, extremely expensive for society.

After almost 30 years of neglect, auto-makers are finally taking head restraint design seriously. The most encouraging aspect of head restraint design today is the acknowledgment that seat back and restraint stiffness and elasticity also are important; this is leading to the introduction of active head restraints.


Head restraints, Whiplash


US-based study in to head restraints and Whiplash, therefore may be only of partial interest to UK audience.