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Chrysler tells kids: "It's cool to ride in back'

Published Feb. 14, 1997|Updated Sep. 30, 2005

Chrysler Corp. has launched a campaign to convince 30-million kids "it's cool to ride in the back seat" _ away from fast-deploying air bags.

In a video sent to every elementary school in the nation Thursday, Chrysler chairman Robert Eaton dons a pair of dark sunglasses to tell children: "The back is where it's at."

The video is part of a teaching packet on air-bag and seat-belt safety arriving this week at about 160,000 elementary schools and day care centers as well as Chrysler dealerships and auto clubs.

Air bags deploying at up to 200 mph have saved more than 1,600 lives, the government estimates. They also have been blamed for the deaths of 36 children and 20 adults in lower-speed accidents the victims should have survived. Most of those killed were not wearing seat belts.

The video is narrated by Bill Nye, the energetic "science guy" who hosts a syndicated television series. At one point in the video, Nye jumps from a second-story window into a giant cushion to demonstrate how air bags work.

In the kickoff event at Lafayette Elementary School in Washington on Thursday, about 500 children watched the video with Eaton, Nye and Dr. Ricardo Martinez, head of the government's highway safety agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Nick Rapp, 11, said he used to fight with his younger brother over who would sit in the front seat.

"Now I'm going to try to persuade my brother to sit in the back because I really like him," he said, "and I don't want him to get hurt in a car crash."

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