Recent detailed field accident data are examined with regard to injuries associated with rear impacts. The distribution of “Societal Harm” associated with various injury mechanisms is presented, and used to evaluate the performance of current seat back and restraint system designs. Deformation associated with seat back yield is shown to be beneficial in reducing overall Societal Harm in rear impacts. The Societal Harm associated with ejection and contact with the vehicle rear interior (the two injury mechanisms addressed by a rigid seat approach), is shown to be minimal. The field accident data also confirm that restraint usage in rear impacts has a substantial injury-reducing effect. Laboratory tests and computer simulations were run to investigate the mechanism by which seat belts protect occupants in rear impacts.