FHR devices are designed to stop the head from rapidly decelerating in an accident, without stopping the neck from moving. It keeps the head in a relative position to the body and allows the harness to absorb the impact.
This prevents what is called a basilar skull fracture. It's a common cause of death in motorsport and is caused by the head rapidly moving forwards while the body stays still. And it's preventable by wearing a HANS device.
All this is a scary thing to read and write about once you’ve had an accident, but it's also heartening to know it works and does its job so effectively. The medical team at Outlon Park couldn’t speak more highly of the system, and they want the word spread on just how effective they are.
So here is that word.
The Motor Sports Association knows about it too, and is making the HANS device compulsory for all circuit racing from 2016 (albeit with a few period exceptions). It’s already been compulsory for post-2000 single-seater drivers to wear one, and it was announced earlier this month that stage rallying, hill climb and sprint event competitors will also have to wear one from next year.
Yes, they’re not cheap (starting at around £350), but you can guess the counter-argument. Indeed, I’m yet to see a driver without one at the two meetings at which I've raced.
On announcing a widening of the mandatory use of FHRs, Tony Scott Andrews, chairman of the Motor Sports Council, said he believed “the governing body has a responsibility to ensure so far as possible the safety of its competitors and the decision has been taken in pursuit of that aim”.
“FHR has become as much a part of a competitor’s safety equipment as a seatbelts, protective clothing and helmet," he added.
Here’s to the HANS device, then. A glass will be raised.
Read the Radical race diary entries
Part one - Snetterton test day
Part two - Bedford Autodrome competitive track day
Part three - What's it like to drive a racing car?
Part four - Round one of racing at Silverstone
Part five - A racing driver's routine
Part six - Round two at Oulton - and a big crash