Several companies have addressed this safety issue and developed products that reduce the risk of serious injury in a frontal and near-frontal crash. If you don't have or use a head-and-neck restraint system, it's time for you to think about purchasing one before you actually need one. Let's take a look at what's out there.

DefNder Neck Brace
The defNder Team Issue head-and-neck device addresses the issues of comfort and price while still offering the needed protection. DefNder's philosophy behind its head-and-neck device is to offer all race drivers the opportunity to have the best and most-comfortable high-performance protection against neck injury at an affordable price.

While it may look similar to other HNR devices on the market, defNder's unique design incorporates flexible form-fit belts and a stabilizer bar chassis design that offers drivers unparalleled comfort. The design of the system allows you to put it on straight over your head, just as you would your helmet, and gives you complete freedom of mobility by allowing you to turn your head to the left and right.

Through numerous sled runs conducted by Delphi, the device easily achieved the SFI 38.1 certification for HNRs. In this exceptional 70g sled test, the defNder's figures were very consistent in both frontal and 30-degree tests, a testament to the significant amount of emphasis defNder's design team placed on side-impact protection. The same defNder withstood multiple sled runs without a single failure.

Constructed from high-performance injection composites, the defNder features the highest grade hardware and technically advanced nylon in its Motion-Max tether system, the heart of the side-impact protection. Motion-Max incorporates VST geometry which acts as a stabilizer in side-impact scenarios. This is also the same system that allows you the freedom of turning your head left to right.

A big plus in the design of the defNder is the harness flares which locate your safety belts and keep the device from sliding around. DefNder says you can easily exit your vehicle in an emergency situation, so, we climbed in and out of our Dirt Late Model with it on just to test that statement. You can, no kidding. However, after testing the device in the shop, our favorite feature has to be the Real-eaze quick release system. This system allows the driver to put on and take off this head-and-neck restraint by himself, a true single-person operation.

Hans Device
Jim Downing and Bob Hubbard started making and selling HANS Devices in 1990, before the broader racing community really understood much about the biomechanics and significance of head-and-neck injuries. In 1997, they started developing the current version. These new devices are smaller and lighter and fit a broad spectrum of racers and cockpits.

Long before that, they saw a need. From their perspectives as race car drivers and biomechanical experts, they recognized in the early '80s that racers were receiving serious head injuries in crashes that might otherwise be injury free. With extensive racing experience, studies in skull bone strength, and data from crash test dummies, they designed the HANS Device to function so that when a racer's torso is restrained, the device restrains the head from swinging forward, thus greatly reducing neck loads.

The basic concept is this. In a crash without a HANS Device, the shoulder harness and seatbelt restrain the driver's torso, but only the neck restrains the head and helmet. The HANS Device reduces the whipping action of the head, keeping the driver's head from being pulled away from the upper body. With a HANS, the forces stretching the neck in a frontal collision are typically reduced by 80 percent. In a frontal impact, the tethers restrain the head's forward movements while the torso and HANS Device are restrained by the shoulder harnesses.