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Quick Question: Have You Ever Used The Headrest While Driving?

Illustration for article titled Quick Question: Have You Ever Used The Headrest While Driving?

I’ve talked about headrests in the context of one of these Quick Questions before, but it was in a biting context, not a use-it-for-its-stated-purpose context. So I feel like I owe headrests some real consideration. Now that I’ve considered headrests, I realized I’m not really sure I’ve ever actually used one while driving. Have you?

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By the way, just to give you a sense of the world we live in now, if you Google “car seat headrest” you’ll almost exclusively get images of this guy:

That dude’s not a headrest. Not even a little.

Anyway, when it comes to real, honest, fabric-and-foam-on-two-sticks headrests, I can’t recall a time I’ve actually, you know, rested my head on one while driving. Doing so, I think, would tilt my head back and point my eyes up uselessly towards the headliner.

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Does anyone use a headrest while driving? I mean, I know why cars have them: DOT rules in 1968 mandated headrests to prevent neck and whiplash-type injuries in a crash.

Illustration for article titled Quick Question: Have You Ever Used The Headrest While Driving?

For what it’s worth, the IIHS calls them “head restraints” which sounds like exactly the sort of phrase carmakers want to avoid when trying to convince buyers a car is comfortable and not like oral surgery.

I always preferred the airy feeling of being in a car with low-back seats, but I understand the fundamental purpose of headrests. I just can’t imagine actually using one, at least while behind the wheel.

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Sure, in the passenger’s seat I’m sure I’ve leaned back and slept on them before, but I feel like of all the parts of a car’s seat, those get the least amount of contact.

Let’s hear from you—are there die-hard headrest-lovers out there? Are there special driving techniques involving headrest use?

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Someone explain this to me, please.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)

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DISCUSSION

Hi. Former automotive safety guy here.

You should absolutely unconditionally, completely, totally, always, use your headrest.

It is your number one defense against whiplash injuries, including from front end collisions (watch crash videos to see what I mean).

To be effective, your head does not actually need to rest against it. It should just be in a position where the headrest contacts or is in close contact to the back of your head, not your neck. Dear sweet baby Jesus, never, ever, ever, ever your neck.

The latest head rest regulations actually have the headrest shooting forward under impact; this is more annoying than anything, and in any case, reduces the extent to which the neck can snap backward (whiplash).

Please For your own sake, understand what the headrest does, and adjust it properly. Do not take it off your car because you think it looks cool. I’m talking to you, Hollywood motherfuckers, with your insistence on removing headrests and interior rearview mirrors for beauty shots.