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Rear seat whiplash protection?

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by SwedishAdvocate, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. SwedishAdvocate

    SwedishAdvocate Active Member

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    #1 SwedishAdvocate, Jul 26, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
    Rear seat whiplash protection

    First: English is only my second language (I'm a Swedish national) so apologies if I’ve gotten the wording of this wrong in some way.

    Also, this is my first post on this forum. The reason for this is that I’ve been unable to find anything definitive on this topic anywhere.

    The short version: Does the Tesla Model S provide protection against whiplash injuries for passengers in the rear seat if the car is involved in an accident where it is rear-ended by another vehicle? The reason I ask is because from what I’ve been able to gather the Model S does not appear to have functional headrests in the back seat.

    The longer version: I've been a rather huge supporter of Tesla since I first found out about the company, and would have gladly reserved a Model S from the get-go if only I then had the necessary means to so (and before that a Roadster as well for that matter). Unfortunately I didn't have those means then and just as unfortunate I still don't. But I of course continue to be a huge supporter, and wish Tesla the biggest possible success.

    This is why I got kind of worried when I read about the rear ending that happened to Teslamotorsclub forum member napabill and his wife at the Get Amped Tour in Freemont in a thread on this forum. Napabill wrote: “My wife in the back seat bumped her head on the roof” …and also in a later post in the same thread, offering more details; ”The only thing my wife noted was that the rear seats do not have head rests but there really isn't room.”

    So, doesn’t the Model S provide protection against whiplash injuries for passengers in the backseat? Or are Tesla as a substitute for traditional headrest instead also using the padded bodywork beam between the roof and the rear window? (Not sure if I’m using the correct term to describe that beam/part of the car…)

    For me, this backseat headrest-issue, together with how to open the doors if power fails, are the only two question marks about the Model S so far. In all other aspects, from the info I’ve seen, the Model S seem about as awesome as it gets. But to me, rear seat whiplash protection still feels like a rather important issue that so far almost hasn’t been addressed at all.
     
  2. gg_got_a_tesla

    gg_got_a_tesla Model S: VIN P65513, Model 3 Res Holder

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    There are headrests in the back row in the Model S but, they are actually lower than the ones up front and more importantly, are fixed (as are the front ones).

    So, I'm not exactly sure how much protection they provide to folks of varying heights; as per the following, fixed headrests are supposedly poor for whiplash protection:

    http://www.caot.ca/default.asp?pageid=3772
     
  3. SwedishAdvocate

    SwedishAdvocate Active Member

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    I can’t find the part in the linked text above where it says that fixed headrests provide less protection against whiplash injuries…

    As I understand it, it all depends on how the back of the head is positioned relative to the headrest. The advantage of a well-designed fixed headrest is that it’s always in a - if not ideal – then at least rather good position relative to the back of the head. This as opposed to whatever circumstance leading to an adjustable headrest being left in the worst possible position (or perhaps entirely removed). I don’t know if this is the reason why, but Volvo for example has been using fixed headrests for as long as I can remember. (Then there’s also the active headrest/seat-designs in front seats as opposed to the passive ones, that further reduces neck-movement in case of a rear-ending. Carmakers who provide active headrests/seat-designs are for example again Volvo, and our beloved and dearly missed SAAB (ok, in case of the latter: provided…:crying:)
     
  4. mulder1231

    mulder1231 Active Member

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    #4 mulder1231, Jul 26, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    I was told by a Tesla rep that whiplash protection is integrated in the roof design. Take a close look next time, you'll see. Or better, sitting in the back, move your head up and backwards and you feel it.

    Edit: you can actually see how the roofliner goes down to provide protection from whiplash here in this video from cinergi:

     
  5. gg_got_a_tesla

    gg_got_a_tesla Model S: VIN P65513, Model 3 Res Holder

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    Is that tongue-in-cheek, Erik? The cramped headroom - thanks to the sloping roofline - is doubling up as whiplash protection now?! :)
     
  6. mulder1231

    mulder1231 Active Member

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    No, seriously, that's what someone told me at Santana Row--it was designed for it. If he was kidding, he certainly did a good job on me :redface:.
     
  7. spatterso911

    spatterso911 MSP#7577 **--** MX#1891

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    Methinks you got a little bamboozled...:smile:

    That kind of protection (low roofline, sloped towards the back) also causes some axial loading on the cervical spine which could potentially cause more injury.
     
  8. SwedishAdvocate

    SwedishAdvocate Active Member

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    Thanks for the video! Yes you’re right; it shows how the gaps between the three headrests and the roofliner are too small for a head to move back into. I’ve seen one photo before posting on this forum, but there wasn’t anyone in the seats in that picture so it was difficult for me at least to make out how big those gaps actually were. (And unfortunately it will probably take me quite some time before I’ll be able to get into one of those backseats…)

    Do you (or anyone else) remember how far back the headliner is relative to the back of your head when sitting up straight? (In the video it looks like the roofliner is positioned a bit behind an imaginary vertical line starting at the front of one of the headrests…)

    About the axial loading issue; I can’t recall having read or heard anything about that… Anyhow, if that’s an issue then I’m guessing that it’s something the Model S maybe shares with other cars that also have this sloping roofline design (Both the current and the previous Volvo S60 for example). But again, I’m only guessing here…
     

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