Most people don't give head restraints a second thought when climbing into a car, and even fewer would count them as a safety feature. But think again. Head restraints don't just hinder rear visibility and give you a comfortable place to rest your head; they play an important role in protecting the head and neck in a crash and help prevent injuries like whiplash.
Whiplash head and neck injuries most often occur in rear-end collisions and a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study estimates that between 1988 and 1996 there were 805,581 whiplash injuries each year. When a car is hit from behind, it is pushed forward, causing the seatback to push against the occupant's torso and move the torso forward as well. As a result, an unsupported head lags behind the torso until its neck can catch up and then whip the head forward.