An active head restraint moves forward and upward in a rear-end collision to decrease the space between the restraint and the occupant’s head, reducing the degree to which the head accelerates before making contact. The less acceleration, the lower the chance of injury.

Using a lever-action mechanism built into a seat, the active restraint redirects the force of an occupant’s body as it presses into the backrest to move the head restraint forward. The beauty of this design is that it reacts proportionately to the occupant’s motion. Unlike the type of pyrotechnic charge used in airbags and seat belt pretensioners — the intensity of which may be too high or low — the active head restraints’ motion is dictated by the occupant’s size and weight and the severity of impact.

Active head restraints first appeared on Saabs and are now available from many automakers on all types of vehicles. The devices typically are applied to a vehicle’s front seats. You can find out if a vehicle has active head restraints by visiting the safety section in its vehicle summary.

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Information for this was taken from’s glossary, written by Joe Wiesenfelder.

Answered by Joe Bruzek on June 4, 2008 in Glossary , How Safe is This Car? , I'm Just Wondering | Permalink

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