Whiplash Prevention. What Can You Do To Prevent A Whiplash Injury?

by allan46 on January 17, 2011

If you have previously been involved in a car accident and suffered a whiplash injury, you will know that it really can be a royal ‘pain in the neck’. What can you do to minimise the impact of a whiplash injury in the future? This article explores some steps that you can take to avoid an injury completely, or to minimise the extent of the injury.

Whiplash is a continually increasing problem. Insurance companies may tell you that the sole reason for this is that there is a “compensation culture”. We do not accept that this is at all the case. Many people who suffer a whiplash injury still do not make a claim for compensation. There are many factors that contribute to the number of whiplash claims being made, the most important one being that year on year as our population increases there are simply more cars on the road. More cars on the road inevitably leads to more accidents which in turn leads to more whiplash injuries.

Therefore, there are many reasons why there are so many whiplash injuries and claims for compensation.

In looking at how to minimise or avoid an injury, the first point to understand is how you suffer a whiplash injury. This usually happens when your vehicle is stationary or moving slowly and another vehicle collides with the rear of it. Whilst your body moves forward as it is in contact with the seat your head stays in the same position until it connects with the headrest. Once it connects with the headrest it too starts to move forward. The only trouble is that by this stage the seatbelt has done its job and your body is starting to move backwards. In the process your head is thrown forwards and then snapped backwards as your body pulls it back. It is this snapping forwards and backwards that over stretches the muscles and causes the whiplash pain and suffering.

But how can you reduce the pain you might suffer completely or partially? Here are some steps you can take immediately to prevent you from suffering a severe injury.

1. Keep Your Distance. We all see the chevrons on the motorway telling us to keep our distance but do we always obey them? Well you should do if you want to save yourself from potentially months of waking up with a stiff neck and struggling to pick up your young children.

Keeping your distance has two major benefits for you. Firstly, it means that if you are a safe distance from the car in front (the AA recommends at least two seconds behind) if they have to brake suddenly you will have sufficient time to stop without colliding with them, preventing injury for you and the car in front.

Secondly, it means that if you have kept a safe distance from the car in front, if you notice someone behind you is not stopping in time, you have space in front to edge forward and to potentially avoid a collision altoghether.

2. Use Your Rear View Mirror. We all remember the driving test don’t we? Mirror, signal, manoeuvre… Do you still do this, everytime? Again it is a very good idea to do so for the reason mentioned above. If you are on a motorway that is coming to a standstill, paying attention to what is happening behind you can be equally important as watching what is going on ahead. In addition, if you are on any other main road and are going to turn left or right checking your rear view mirror will alert you if someone is travelling too close to you so that you can indicate your intention to turn long before the junction. This could save another rear end collision.

3. Adjust Your Headrest. If you have done all you can to avoid an accident happening at all, the next stage is to reduce the impact of the accident (and minimise the injury). This is best achieved by adjusting your headrest to the correct position which then affords the headrest the best chance of doing its job.

The top of the headrest should be level with the top of your head. If it is it will do all it can to minimise the impact. Have it too low and your head could ‘whip’ back over the top of it and it can actually do you more harm than good.

Conclusion. Take these steps and you really can save yourself from a lot of whiplash pain and suffering.


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Nicholas Jervis is a solicitor (non-practising) and a legal marketing consultant to Gray Hooper Holt Solicitors.
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