Headrest / Head Restraint

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Head restraint, which is commonly known as a headrest, is an automotive safety feature attached or integrated into the top of the vehicle seat. Head restraint functions to limit the rearward movement of the adult occupant’s head, relative to the torso during a collision thus, preventing or mitigating whiplash or injury to the neck vertebrae.

Type of Head Restraints

According to Berglund, A. (2003), exposure to a rear-end vehicle collision seemed to be associated with the highest risk of whiplash injury. For the past half a century, vehicle safety researchers have been designing and gathering information on the ability of head restraints to mitigate injuries resulting from rear-end collisions. As a result, different types of head restraints have been developed by various manufacturers with the same objectives such as:

  • Integrated head restraint or fixed head restraint – refers to a head restraint formed by the upper part of the seat back, or a head restraint that is not height adjustable and cannot be detached from the seat or the vehicle structure except by the use of tools or following the partial or total removal of the seat furnishing. This type can be found in some Perodua Myvi.
Integrated head restraint (Image: Maserati)
  • Adjustable head restraint – refers to a head restraint that is capable of being positioned to fit the morphology of the seated occupant. The device may permit horizontal displacement, known as tilt adjustment, and/or vertical displacement, known as height adjustment. This is the most common type found in most vehicles.
Adjustable head restraint (Image: Nissan)
  • Active head restraint – refers to a device designed to automatically improve head restraint position and/or geometry during an impact.
  • Automatically adjusting head restraint – refers to a head restraint that automatically adjusts the position of the head restraint when the seat position is adjusted.

Correct Usage of Head Restraint

The most effective head restraint must allow a backset motion of less than 60 mm either passively or actively immediately after an impact to prevent the hyperextension of the neck during impact according to Stemper, B. D., Yoganandan, N., & Pintar, F. A. (2006). Whatever car you drive, you’ll get the maximum whiplash protection from a head restraint that’s properly positioned.

Headrests should ideally be positioned two inches (50 mm) or less from the rear of the driver’s head, and never more than four inches (100 mm). When adjusting for height, the bulk of the headrest should stand directly behind the occupants’ head, with the middle part of the headrest the same level as the top of ear.

Vehicle Parts - Head rest

⚠️ Use your head restraint correctly for optimum protection ⚠️

Bagi seorang kanak-kanak sekitar usia 7-12 tahun mereka tidak boleh menggunakan kerusi keselamatan jenis booster tanpa penyandar pada tempat duduk penumpang yang tiada penahan kepala kerana bahagian kepala mereka tidak dilindungi. Pengunaan booster berpenyandar pula memungkinkan anda perlu untuk menanggalkan penahan kepala kerusi kenderaan bagi membolehkan pemasangan yang baik dilakukan. Sentiasa rujuk kepada kedua-dua manual kerusi keselamatan dan manual kenderaan sebelum membuat sebarang keputusan dan tindakan!

For children between the age of 7 – 12 years old, they cannot use a backless booster in a seat location without a headrest as their heads will not be protected. Whereas the installation of a highback booster might require you to remove the headrest in order to properly install the child restraint system. Always refer to both the child restraint and vehicle’s manuals before you decide or take any action!


  1. Berglund, A. (2003). Occupant- and Crash-Related Factors Associated with the Risk of Whiplash Injury. Annals of Epidemiology, 13(1), 66-72. doi:10.1016/s1047-2797(02)00252-1
  2. Stemper, B. D., Yoganandan, N., & Pintar, F. A. (2006). Effect of head restraint backset on head–neck kinematics in whiplash. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 38(2), 317-323. doi:10.1016/j.aap.2005.10.005

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