I have seen it so many times now; people removing the headrests in their seats, flipping them around, and inserting them backwards. The reason for that is simple – comfort. A lot of the new cars have headrests that are tilted forward, so much so that at times it feel like they’re pushing on the back of your scalp. This in turn makes the driver feel like they can’t keep their neck in its natural position.
The reason for the way these headrests are is simple – safety. Those of us whose vehicles were hit from behind by another vehicle know the pains of whiplash. Even a light hit can leave one with neck pain. Obviously more forceful hits can cause more significant injuries. Headrests are there to prevent our heads from snapping back. Making the headrests bigger and moving them closer to our heads is mean of reducing that neck snap.
The issue of comfort is an important one. Comfort needs to be constant while an impact is momentary. But flipping the headrests around completely negates the purpose of those headrests. With the headrests flipped around, the distance between one’s head and the headrests increases significantly. This in turn allows you head to be whipped much further back, significantly increasing the chance of injury.
There are many new cars that had those annoying non-adjustable, but safe, headrests. Many Ford, Volvo, FCA and Toyota (pictured, second row of a Sienna minivan) models come to mind. On newer models, Ford has made the tilt angle of the headrests adjustable. Fancier vehicles have active head restraints, where the headrest moves forward automatically, upon rear impact, to decrease the distance between head and headrest.
Instead of flipping the headrests around, I suggest spending more time adjusting your seat. From my experience, tilting the seat backrest very slightly and raising the seat equally slightly will move the headrests away from one’s head. It allows for a more comfortable driving position without reducing safety or impacting operation of the vehicle or visibility out of the vehicle. Small adjustments make a big difference.
While on the subject, proper driver’s seat adjustment is crucial to the safe operation of a vehicle. I see so many people sitting so low that their eye level is hardly above the gauge cluster. How can they see what’s in front of them? Those who recline their seats to a 45-degree gangster lean angle are equally wrong.