Car seats have a hard life. They're the one contact point in your car that you use 100 percent of the time, and they have to suffer hundreds of thousands of miles of your own and other peoples' rear-ends whilst remaining comfortable, and, above all, safe.

The humble headrest is an oft-overlooked aspect of your car seat but it can be vital in reducing whiplash in an accident. In those first miliseconds during a crash your head is propelled forward by the force of an impact, then recoils backwards. In a rear-impact, your head is thrown backwards. With no protective rest behind your head in either scenario, you would suffer severe whiplash injuries, or potentially even break your neck.

Not pleasant, you'll agree. Honda is concerned for your health too, which is why Honda engineers have redeveloped the headrests for the new 2012 Honda Civic to prevent whiplash injuries even more effectively.

The previous generation Civic used a conventional active headrest design. In a rear impact, your body is pushed backwards. This movement pushed on a mechanism in the seatback to push the headrest upward and forward to meet your head to prevent excessive movement.

The new design uses a fixed headrest, but in an accident the passengers sink further into the seat, reducing their movement in a different way.

However, the new design means that the seat now uses 20 percent fewer components and weighs 13 percent less. As is the trend these days, this weight reduction allows small benefits in performance and economy.

Chief engineer Mitsuru Horikoshi says that the seat remains as comfortable as it ever was and that occupants won't notice any differences to the seats in normal driving, despite subtle differences inside the seat. These include folded cushion springs that deflect more in an accident to allow the passengers to sink deeper, and vertical grooves in the urethane foam that enhance the effect.

Expect to see the new seat technology in upcoming Honda models as well as the Civic. In the meantime, check out a preview of the 2012 Honda Civic on Motor Authority.

[Wards Auto]