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Old 25th February 2014, 16:14   #1
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Default Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Background & origin of this thread : During my recent visit to Jaipur from New Delhi, I was asked by my travel agent to take an Etios instead of a Corolla as all the cars he had were occupied with the delegations who were visiting the Auto Expo 2014.

After a little reluctance, I agreed to his request. My agreeing to his request had another reason i.e. I had never travelled in an Etios. I thought why not try this. Accompanying me was another office colleague of mine.

I always prefer sitting in the front but this time I had to sit at the rear because of my office colleague.

Personally, I did not like the journey to Jaipur and back in an Etios and the reasons are many,

To start with:

It had no power windows,

Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?-power-windows.jpg

No grip handle at the roof,

Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?-handle.jpg

No centre arm rest at the rear seat but my worst nightmare was the integrated Head restraints or head rests in the front seats. I could not remove them, they kept blocking my frontal view.

Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?-photo-1.jpg
Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?-photo-2.jpg
Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?-photo-4.jpg

Moreover, the black interior gave me a claustrophobic feel. When we were entering Rajasthan the driver went out to pay the state tax, I came out of the car and noticed that it had white number plates instead of mandatory yellow.

Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?-rear-np.jpg

That is when I actually lost my cool and called up the travel agent to ask his driver to change these plates immediately at the first available shop. I do not want traffic police hassles in Jaipur. Fortunately, he agreed and obliged.

Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?-np-changed.jpg

Whenever, I travel in a car where I am suppose to sit at the rear, all I would do is remove the front headrest for a clear frontal view, but during this trip this option was not available.

Throughout the journey these small things disturbed my peace of mind and it was then, when I came up with an idea of starting a thread to seek the opinion of my fellow members on the fixed headrests. Had I enjoyed the clear frontal view, I would have never noticed the other things and clicked them.

My Initial observation: I have been always thinking as to why the car manufacturers have started merging the head restraints with the seats. I feel it started with the first generation i10, then gradually almost every manufacturer started following this trend. The cars that have adopted these changes include the Santro, Alto, Grand i10, Toyota Liva, Toyota Etios and the list goes on.

However, seeing the public perception Toyota later changed back to the removable Head restraints which are also called Self-Aligning Head Restraint (SAHR) from the integrated one.

SAHR are those headrests which are designed to move upward or downward.

My Initial Study: My dislike for these fixed headrests and a little research on the internet taught me that a car head restraint or headrest is actually not designed to rest your head against and relax but it is designed to prevent a whiplash injury in a rear-end collision.

So the whole idea of the thread was changed from "Which one do you like" to"which is more safe"?

Here is a link to understand the whiplash injury:

http://www.spine-health.com/video/whiplash-video

Headrests are an automotive safety feature attached or integrated into the seats to limit the rearward movement of adult occupant's head to prevent whiplash injury to the cervical vertebrae in a rear end collision.

The first ever patent for an automobile "headrest" was granted to Benjamin Katz of Oakland, California in 1921.However, the use of head rest in cars came into force or was mandated by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in all new cars sold in US after 1st January 1969.

There have been many research studies carried out and a lot has been debated on how effective they are to prevent whiplash injuries.

While a certain section of researchers do agree that their mandatory introduction in all cars have prevented thousand of injuries. On the other hand there are researchers who believe that only a few people can be observed to follow the standard recommendations as regards headrests positioning and driver's seating position.

However, there are those who feel that the SAHR are more effective in reducing whiplash injuries than the one's that are fixed because the SAHR gives the person a flexibility in choosing the exact position according to the height of the driver.

My idea is too seek the opinion of fellow members on the following:

1. Which headrest is liked by you : Fixed or SAHR?
2. Which one do you think is more safe: Fixed or SAHR?
3. Which one is more economical for car companies?
4. Are car companies compromising on our safety?

Last edited by mints21 : 25th February 2014 at 17:03.
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Old 26th February 2014, 14:53   #2
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Default re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 26th February 2014, 15:15   #3
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mints21 View Post
No grip handle at the roof
Were the grab handles above the rear doors missing? Then that's an omission from the manufacturer's part. Probably another cost cutting measure.

Answers in line:

1. Which headrest is liked by you : Fixed or SAHR?

- I would prefer the removable type. In the event that the car's doors get jammed or do not unlock, it would be easier to remove the restraints off the seats and use the SS rods to break the windshield/glass, just like an emergency hammer.

2. Which one do you think is more safe: Fixed or SAHR?

- Both, as long as it prevents a whiplash injury to the driver/passengers in the event of an accident.

3. Which one is more economical for car companies?

- Fixed type. Isn't that obvious?

4. Are car companies compromising on our safety?

- Yes. By skimping on essential safety features such as airbags, ABS etc. on entry level variants and cheaper segments.
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Old 26th February 2014, 15:16   #4
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Fixed head restraints are anyway just a cost cutting gimmick done for the manufacturers by the manufacturers.
How can the one size fits all funda work correctly. tomorrow if a tall passenger sits and is not really covered well by the integrated headrests, his neck would be the first casualty of a rear shunt.

The very basis of SAHR was to adapt to the position of the particular passenger seated in
SAHR are what I would anyday prefer. They do the job perfectly so long as you adjust them properly

Self Aligning Head Restraints are a bit of a misnomer. They have to be aligned/positioned manually and do not do the work by themselves!

Last edited by racer_m : 26th February 2014 at 15:20.
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Old 26th February 2014, 15:58   #5
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Quote:
Were the grab handles above the rear doors missing?
Yes, they were missing. It is such a small but yet an essential thing.

These missing handles along with no rear centre arm rest make the entire journey cumbersome.

These small things irritated me a lot.
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Old 26th February 2014, 16:52   #6
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Logically speaking there are more than a few variables to determining an ideal neck restraint system on a car seat. There are headrests which are thinly bolstered & flat and then those with projected cushioning. The natural position of a car driver when driving is often one where he/she sits straight & is a few inches away from the head rest. Certain luxury cars have 2 stage cushioning for the headrest, the projected integrated neck-pillow which would be spongy as a support most of the time and then the rest of the unit which would prevent the head from hyperextending the neck (whiplash) in situations of sudden stoppage of the vehicle.

Modern seat designs have been the result of adequate planning where over 90% of the people should find themselves safe in them. Ideally, the head restraint must be no lower than 2 inches from the tip of the head but even more important is the angle the entire seat is adjusted to. Supposing the headrest is first adjusted to align with the tip of the head then the seat is reclined 75 degrees or lower, the entire safety exercise is futile because the distance b/w head and the restraint must be no more than 2-3 inches. In most cars today you do find that the neck restraints align with the head in its default lowest position, if not then the adjustible head restraints are of great use, but as I stated above - for it to work at all will depend on keeping the seat as close to 90 degrees as possible, and also to assume a relaxed proper driving position and not try to peek over the hood when sitting like I see some people doing. As far as maximum safety is concerned it is available only in active head-rests which automatically move closer when detecting emergency.

Last edited by dark.knight : 26th February 2014 at 16:55. Reason: Added a point
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Old 27th February 2014, 00:44   #7
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mints21 View Post
Moreover, the black interior gave me a claustrophobic feel. When we were entering Rajasthan the driver went out to pay the state tax, I came out of the car and noticed that it had white number plates instead of mandatory yellow.

My idea is too seek the opinion of fellow members on the following:

1. Which headrest is liked by you : Fixed or SAHR?
2. Which one do you think is more safe: Fixed or SAHR?
3. Which one is more economical for car companies?
4. Are car companies compromising on our safety?
My opinions:

1. SAHR
2. SAHR (Can be removed to break a window if needed)
3. Fixed
4. Yes they are.

The other thing I noticed is that the car has 'Bull Bars'

I mean is that needed for a sedan, actually speaking to be banned in India as it does more harm than protecting.

Was the front end bull bar as simple as the rear one or it was the big one?

Anurag.
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Old 27th February 2014, 00:57   #8
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mints21 View Post
[mare was the integrated Head restraints or head rests in the front seats. I could not remove them, they kept blocking my frontal view.

1. Which headrest is liked by you : Fixed or SAHR?
2. Which one do you think is more safe: Fixed or SAHR?
3. Which one is more economical for car companies?
4. Are car companies compromising on our safety?
Even though the integrated ones are not adjustable for height, they are designed to be tall enough to protect the tallest percentile driver. In fact that is the reason why the seat ends up large to the point of blocking vision and causing claustrophobia to backseat occupants.

To answer your question, the integrated ones are probably safer in a country like India where the awareness is poor and its become a practice to remove them. Couple this with chaotic traffic and high accident rate and its a recipe for disaster.

Last edited by Mpower : 28th February 2014 at 00:31.
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Old 27th February 2014, 10:05   #9
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a4anurag View Post
My opinions:

The other thing I noticed is that the car has 'Bull Bars'

I mean is that needed for a sedan, actually speaking to be banned in India as it does more harm than protecting.

Was the front end bull bar as simple as the rear one or it was the big one?

Anurag.
The car had Bull Bar only at the rear. There was no bull bar in the front. Attached is the front picture.

Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?-front-np.jpg

Personally, I am not in favour of installing bull bars as they look so ugly. I would say a slightly scratched or dented bumper looks better than a car with a Bull Bar.

Apart from these taxi fleet owners I believe that Government of India is also fond of this accessory. You will spot almost all government cars in Delhi with these bull bars. I think the trend started with installation of Bull Bars in Ambassador and the government decided to live with this tradition. They have not even spared Hyundai Accent and Maruti Sx4.
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Old 27th February 2014, 12:12   #10
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mints21 View Post
...my worst nightmare was the integrated Head restraints or head rests in the front seats. I could not remove them, they kept blocking my frontal view.
Why didn't you collapse the seat and then push it away? I have seen many 'sahabs' do that in their so called 'bada gaadis'.
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Old 27th February 2014, 13:05   #11
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mints21 View Post
Background & origin of this thread :

My idea is too seek the opinion of fellow members on the following:

1. Which headrest is liked by you : Fixed or SAHR?
2. Which one do you think is more safe: Fixed or SAHR?
3. Which one is more economical for car companies?
4. Are car companies compromising on our safety?
My response would be as below:

1. I like (or prefer) SAHR
2. It depends on the height of the person driving / sitting in the front passenger seat and as long as the head-restraint is performing its function. If the driver / passenger is too tall, then SAHR would be the best, where he / she can adjust the height.
3. Obviously, the fixed one!!
4. Yes, they are
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Old 27th February 2014, 14:16   #12
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

What surprises me is that the number plate gets changed from White to Yellow. It implies that a registered Taxi was being plied as a regular car. Is this a common occurrence? I am sure that must have been done to save on some 'chungi'. But isn't this illegal?

Personally, I am in favor of removable headrests as apart from the being able to help break glass in emergency they do provide more support compared to integrated headrest. As an anecdote about how removable headrests are abused in our country, the shop from where I was getting my seat covers done told me that i should not put in the head rests as they somehow decrease the overall appeal of the car. While i told him how this was a safety feature rather than an innocuous accessory, I am sure some other gullible Delhi driver would put them away enhance the overall show of the car.
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Old 27th February 2014, 14:44   #13
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by racer_m View Post
Fixed head restraints are anyway just a cost cutting gimmick done for the manufacturers by the manufacturers.
How can the one size fits all funda work correctly. tomorrow if a tall passenger sits and is not really covered well by the integrated headrests, his neck would be the first casualty of a rear shunt.
100% agree. Exactly my thoughts. And because of the same "one size fits all " pattern, the integrated headrest type seats are often made quite taller to accommodate the tallest of passenger's head and end up becoming awkwardly tall and ugly looking.

Personally I do not prefer integrated head-restraints.But sadly so many new cars are coming with this cheap feature nowadays. Amaze, grand i10, Celerio..the list goes on. Why are our companies going back in time when the whole world is moving forward? Even my 2001 Zen had adjustable front head-restraints and 14 years later the same Maruti has released their new Celerio with integrated restraints! Such a shame!!

But who is really bothered ? As long as our main concern remains low price & high fuel-efficiency only, we Indians will keep on getting reduced/removed features and comforts from these entry-level and mid-segment manufacturers.
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Old 27th February 2014, 15:53   #14
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mints21 View Post
It had no power windows,

Attachment 1212099

No grip handle at the roof,

Attachment 1212100

No centre arm rest at the rear seat but my worst nightmare was the integrated Head restraints or head rests in the front seats.
Attachment 1212101

Moreover, the black interior gave me a claustrophobic feel.

...

My idea is too seek the opinion of fellow members on the following:

1. Which headrest is liked by you : Fixed or SAHR?
2. Which one do you think is more safe: Fixed or SAHR?
3. Which one is more economical for car companies?
4. Are car companies compromising on our safety?
First of all, your travel agent really took you on the ride. Even if you had got G variant for the commute, half your problems would be over.

The J variant that you got to ride has all those deficiencies as you pointed out and do make it feel the way you did.

On the opinion:
1. Both. Fixed for safety and SAHR for comfort.

2. Fixed, logically, and while driving also feel it, as I drive our older version Etios G with fixed headrests, it gives more rigid support at the back, neck and head.

3. Fixed. Basically lesser components, lesser costs considering all else equal.

4. This is a highly debatable point.
For that matter, is Toyota compromising even on selling a car like Innova in E and G variants without giving those basic safety necessities? Yet, in so much as 8 years of ownership I have not felt the need for ABS so to say except on the Sandy road near Tangste where it literally skidded at moderate speeds, where even ABS would have been futile, and yet was able to avert an accident.

Similar situation will be for many other cars sold in India.

However, Innova and Etios and many others come with safety features standard on their top variants at least. So why don't people buy them?
To each his own and affordability is a big question.

So are car companies really compromising on our safety or is it us, are we doing it by going for lesser variants due to affordability and various reasons?

Would I take a lesser variant even as a taxi if at all I could afford a highest variant of a higher cost car and demand it actually so whatever it takes?

It is extremely debatable point and not easily answerable.

Last edited by parsh : 27th February 2014 at 15:54.
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Old 27th February 2014, 16:58   #15
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Default Re: Separate or Integrated Neck Restraints (Headrests) : Which is the safer choice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by parsh View Post
Yet, in so much as 8 years of ownership I have not felt the need for ABS so to say except on the Sandy road near Tangste where it literally skidded at moderate speeds, where even ABS would have been futile, and yet was able to avert an accident.
Luck buddy luck!

No offence but safety features do help in saving a life and the other factor is luck. Having a top-end, well kitted car CAN also kill a person of the driver doesn't drive properly.

PS: No points mentioned are directed onto you. Just telling it in general and NOT to spark an argument.

Quote:
Originally Posted by parsh View Post
However, Innova and Etios and many others come with safety features standard on their top variants at least. So why don't people buy them? To each his own and affordability is a big question.
This is the point I make always that many fail to understand. All manufacturers have offered the safety in top-end variants but still we all go for the lower/mid variants blaming manufacturers and costs but the real factor is awareness and affordability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by parsh View Post
So are car companies really compromising on our safety or is it us, are we doing it by going for lesser variants due to affordability and various reasons?
Anurag.
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