SEARCH BLOG: AUTOMOBILES
My wife and I decided to replace our older truck with a new car. After several days of research and discussion, we settled upon two choices. We went to the showroom to test drive the two vehicles and make our decision. What we discovered was that a well-intentioned government and insurance industry efforts prompted one manufacturer to create an improved safety device design... that makes driving the vehicles unbearable for many people.
Here is my wife in our 2008 car.
The head restraint forms a mild angle with the seat back that allows her to rest her head against the restraint while maintaining a comfortable posture.
Now here she is driving a 2009 model with what must be the "new, improved" head restraint.
Gee, that looks really comfortable with the head restraint forcing her chin downward and placing a nice strain on her neck and shoulders. She had attempted to alleviate some of the strain by reclining the seat back more than she normally would, but that did not help much.
I wrote to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that gave the 2009 vehicle's head restraints high marks for rear collision protection:
While the IIHS rating system of head restraints for vehicles may accurately reflect test results, it somehow misses the 800 lb. gorilla in the room: certain highly rated active head restraints are exceedingly uncomfortable and may be misused as a result.Isn't it amazing how scientific models and government mandates can totally miss real world issues?
The IIHS ratings of XXX vehicles is a prime example. The note below [to the vehicle manufacturer not included here] ... provides an example of the conflict between IIHS results and consumer acceptance. A head restrain that forces an occupant's head into an unnatural position may provide some improvement in a rear-end collision [although I have my doubts], but it is certain to result in greater muscle fatigue, headaches, inattention, and possibly higher accident risks. Some people may go so far as to reverse the position of the head restraint [rotate 180°] to allow their head to be in a more natural position. Others will attempt to alter the seating configuration with pillows or sit askewed. Those actions completely defeat the purpose of that device.
It seems obvious to me that the IIHS testing does not include these other considerations in the evaluation of head restraint designs and is, therefore, incomplete and inaccurate. Because your website does not have an email contact for feedback such as this, I am asking you to forward this on to the your board for information and potential corrective action/expansion of testing parameters.
View the IIHS testing here...