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How To Reduce the Risk Of Whiplash In Car Accidents

Whiplash is a common injury to a person’s neck following swift and sudden acceleration to deceleration force that causes the head and neck to move forward and backward rapidly. Whiplash most often occurs as a result of rear-end collisions of vehicles, even in a low speed accident under 25km/hr.

Car crash dummies testing for whiplash
Car crash dummies testing for whiplash

It is known to medical staff as cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome or CAD. Whiplash is an extremely quick motion, putting the cervical spine and soft tissue of the neck under immense stress.

In a rear-end collision the head and upper body of the occupant move backwards relative to the seat. As the torso is supported by the seat, it’s movement is limited; but the head can sharply rotate backwards until it is stopped abruptly by the head restraint. As this video demonstrates, the neck is hyperextended before hyperflexing forward again with the rebounding torso. All of this strain can occur in under 125 milliseconds.

It may seem simple; but the long-term effects of whiplash can be debilitating if left untreated. As whiplash itself if typically not a life threatening injury, it can be commonly mistreated or ignored. Failure to adequately treat whiplash can lead to a more severe and chronic condition.

How do you know if you’ve suffered a whiplash injury?

The symptoms of whiplash

There are as many different whiplash symptoms as there are varying degrees of severity. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, look out for these common symptoms:

  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Reduced motion or mobility
  • Neck weakness or instability
  • Headache, shoulder pain and upper back pain

In severe cases there may even be tingling, weakness or numbness radiating down the arms or across the shoulders.

Symptoms such as fatigue, pain in and around the jaw, and ringing in the ears are also signs of whiplash but these are less common.

The tricky thing about whiplash is that it may not manifest for 24 hours after the incident. So, be sure to watch for pain, stiffness or tension in the neck, worsening of pain when moving the neck, lightheadedness or blurred vision, and of course increasing headaches. If any of these symptoms occur you should seek medical advice immediately.

In chronic cases of whiplash associated disorders symptoms can include anger, anxiety, stress, frustration and depression. Any or all of these can lead to drug dependency, sleep disorders such as insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All can be treated by a health practitioner.

Needless to say, whiplash is best to be avoided. Thankfully, there are ways you can try to reduce the risk and severity of the injury.

Whiplash from Car Accident
Whiplash Xray

Can whiplash be prevented?
How can you protect yourself when the main cause is unpredictable?

  • Protect yourself and your neck by wearing your seat belt correctly and every time you drive. Your seatbelt helps to keep you in a safe position during a crash, therefore reducing the risk and severity of whiplash and serious injury.   
  • Adjust your headrest so that the top of the restraint reaches at least the top of your ears, and is relatively close to your head (approx 5cm). If a headrest is too far away, or incorrectly positioned it may even exacerbate injuries sustained in an accident.
  • Ensure your seat is not too close, or too far from steering wheel. If you’re involved in a rear-end accident under 25km/hr your airbag is not programmed to deploy, and occupants are at risk of connecting with the steering wheel or dash if you’re seated too close. If you’re too far back in the vehicle, the distance of which you can be flung forward is greater, before the force is cushioned by your airbag in an accident at 25km/hr or more.
  • Keep your windscreen in top condition. In the event of an accident, your windscreen plays an important role in assisting the correct deployment of your airbag. If the integrity of your windscreen is compromised by a chip, crack or even a scratch, it is at risk of shattering, or even ‘popping out’ in the event of a crash. This may cause your airbag to deploy away from you rather than towards you, possibly rendering it useless.

Importance of quality windscreen repair

If you’ve identified even minor damage to your windscreen, your safety is at risk. When the glass is responsible for the structural integrity of the roof of your car, and correct airbag deployment, in the event of a collision, it’s imperative to keep it in perfect condition.

In many cases minor damage can be repaired rather than replaced as an inexpensive way to restore the windscreen back to its optimal strength.

When your windscreen is in need of some TLC so it can look after you and your family, it’s always best to seek professional advice. Your local Novus specialists will ensure repair is executed quickly, correctly and to the highest standard. It’s our business to help your windscreen keep you safe in unpredictable situations.

Novus Auto Glass specialise in windscreen repair technology and strive to provide you with the best possible care for your car. Services include windscreen repair and replacement as well as glass restoration and polishing. Call us to see how we can help you on 13 22 34.