Research Papers

Whiplash Prevention Campaign Initiative: Development of an Observational Protocol for Proper Head Restraint Use

Filename 5A-Harry-Luk.pdf
Filesize 352 KB
Version 1
Date added May 8, 2011
Downloaded 3 times/fois
Category 2011 CMRSC XXI Halifax
Tags Session 5A
Author/Auteur Douglas P. Romilly, Harry Luk, Peter Xing, Marc White, Ediriweera Desapriya


Soft tissue injuries to the neck and back, commonly known as whiplash, are the most common injury of occupant dynamics induced by rear end collisions. During a rear end impact, the struck vehicle experiences an acceleration pulse that drives the seat into the seated occupants, resulting in dynamic loads on the seatback and occupant. The role of the automotive seat, being the predominant safety device in rear end collisions, is to cushion, support and protect the occupant by reducing the acceleration and dynamic loads experienced during the collision. When the head restraint is not positioned properly for the seated occupant, the seatback will catch and support the occupant’s torso while the head restraint will fail to properly support and limit the motion of the head, typically resulting in whiplash. The goal of the “Whiplash Prevention Campaign” initiative is to encourage proper head restraint adjustment by educating the public via comprehensive social marketing strategies and vehicle safety awareness programs being developed and performed as part of a current AUTO21-sponsored research project.

An observational study protocol based on computer-assisted standardized data analysis methods has been developed to quantify any target population and its proper head restraint use. This ensures accurate measurements of the relative position of the head-to-head restraint position, which assesses the suitability of the head restraint position for the seated occupant based on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rating system. The IIHS rating system utilizes measurements of the distance between the occupant’s head and the head restraint in both the horizontal and vertical directions to categorize the suitability of the head restraint position into four classifications (i.e. Good, Acceptable, Marginal and Poor) based on the potential to mitigate injury should a rear end collision occur. This paper discusses the ethical and technological issues considered in the development of this observational study protocol, and outlines how it is now being used to assess proper head restraint use on public roadways in Greater Vancouver and at stakeholder/industry locations within BC.

Douglas P. Romilly, Harry Luk, Peter Xing, Marc White, Ediriweera Desapriya