Steering You Right: ‘Active’ Head Safety

2013-09-04T09:00:00Z Steering You Right: ‘Active’ Head SafetyBy Sharon L. Peters CTW Features
September 04, 2013 9:00 am  • 

Q: We’ve been trying out some new cars for the first time in seven years. Many have “active head restraint.” What does that mean?

A: There are slightly different approaches, depending on the manufacturer. But essentially, the active head restraint, also sometimes referred to as dynamic head restraint, moves forward and upward in a rear-end collision. That action decreases the space between the restraint and your head, thereby reducing the chances of, or at least the severity of what is commonly called whiplash.

Active head restraints showed up first in Saabs and now are more widely available.

Q: Several months ago you gave some figures for sales of plug-in electric cars. Basically, almost no one was buying them. I’m wondering if a larger percentage of cars sold now are electric.

A: There hasn’t been much of an uptick. According to the most recent figures available, electric cars account for less than 1 percent of U.S. car sales.

Q: I want to get one of those last-year’s-model bargains on a new SUV or hatchback this fall. And I am especially interested, because I’m in sales and always have armloads of stuff and to put into the back, a particular invention I’ve heard about: there’s a car that you only have to kick with your foot to make the liftback open. Some friends and I have heard of it, but none of us knows what make it is, and I haven’t been able to ascertain online what it is.

A: The 2013 (which, happily, is the year you’re aiming to buy) Ford Escape got a great deal of attention last year for its inventive hands-free means of getting the liftback to pop open.

You do a little leg motion by the bumper to make it open (and you have to have your key fob with you, so the car knows you’re not just any anybody trying to get into the car).

That movement, though, isn’t quite as simple as the kicking-it-with-your-foot business you describe. There is a sequence that must be followed, specifically the car must detect the part of your leg and foot the reading gizmo wants to see before it will click into action and allow access.

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email

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