Being involved in a car accident is a harrowing experience. One that requires that you think of all the safety tips you’ve learned over the years, potentially incorporating them in a situation when adrenaline and pain are coursing through your body. This means knowing all possible options to protect yourself in a crash. In recent years, a story has been circulating around the Internet, promoting that your can use your headrest to protect you in an accident. 

The basic premise of this claim is true- in the event of an emergency, your headrest could indeed help you break a window and escape. However, it’s important to realize that this was not what the headrest was designed for. In fact, dating all the way back to the 1921 patent origins of the headrest, the primary purpose was to protect the head and neck from the impacts of whiplash. Since then, the headrest has gone through numerous changes, but the primary purpose still is not for emergency use. Rather, the purpose of the headrest is for safety and comfort. Regulations outlined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are focused on preventing or minimizing the impacts of whiplash, too.

While this doesn’t mean you cannot use your headrest to protect you in an accident, bear in mind that each vehicle has different specifications. You could be trapped in your vehicle because the power windows have stopped working in a crash or because your car is sinking in water, and during that time, you have a limited ability to get out of the car easily.

In those precious moments during an accident, it might be difficult to get the headrest off quickly enough to save you. If you’re trapped in your car for any reason, it might be worth the effort to give the headrest a shot to break the window, but you certainly shouldn’t count on it.