Are rear headrests legal to remove?

By Product Expert | Posted in Tips and Info on Thursday, July 23rd, 2020 at 2:32 pm
Brown leather headrest on a vehicular seat

Headrest Legal Requirements

You may have noted that headrests in vehicles don’t tend to be the most comfortable places to rest one’s dome. This is because headrests are in place for safety rather than comfort. A headrest can go a long way towards preventing whiplash if one’s vehicle gets rear-ended.

Still, some situations occur when one would like to remove a headrest; specifically, those in the backseat area of a vehicle. Is it legal to remove the rear headrest?


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A police officer inquires, in retro digital font, for a headrest to please be in place.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is not legal to remove the headrests from a vehicle. It is unlikely that police would cite an individual for this infraction, as there is generally not much attention paid to it. However, it is strongly recommended that one keep their vehicle’s headrests in place for the safety benefits.

Are automakers required to include rear headrests in their vehicles?

Interestingly, automakers are not required by law to include rear headrests in the backseats of any vehicle. They have, however, been required to include them in the front outboard seats of all cars since 1969. This mandate was extended to include pickups, vans and SUVs in 1991.

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How should a headrest be positioned?

It’s important to position a headrest correctly in order to minimize the risk of injury if an accident should occur. An incorrectly positioned headrest can actually increase the risk of injury in an accident.

Ideal Headrest Height

The head restraint should be adjusted so that it’s even with the top of one’s head. If it won’t reach that high, just make it as high as it can go. If the headrest is already higher than the top of the head in the unadjusted position, that’s okay.

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Ideal Headrest Distance

The distance from the back of one’s head to the head restraint should be as small as possible; less than four inches Is deal.

Pro-Tip: If you’re having trouble reducing the distance between your head and the headrest, try adjusting the seat’s recline angle.

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