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EDD: SUBS penultimate graf to include full name of school; News conference scheduled for 10 a

February 13, 1997

EDD: SUBS penultimate graf to include full name of school; News conference scheduled for 10 a.m. EST; lead planned

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a new video being sent to every elementary school in the nation, Chrysler Chairman Robert Eaton dons a pair of dark sunglasses to tell children ``it’s cool to ride in the back seat″ _ away from fast-deploying air bags.

Chrysler is launching the $3 million education campaign today to convince millions of kids across the country to buckle up and sit in the back seat because ``the back is where it’s at.″

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

The video is part of a teaching packet arriving at about 160,000 elementary schools and day care centers along with dealerships and auto clubs.

It’s 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 show how air bags work.

The repeated message of the program: It is always safer for children to ride in back, and most important is buckling up properly.

Rear-facing infant seats should never be placed in a front seat where they are directly in the path of an air bag.

Eaton says with the help of teachers, the company is ``attempting nothing short of a complete culture shift in the way children are transported in this country.″

Nye takes viewers inside of an auto plant and shows them how air bags deploy in the blink of an eye with a loud bang.

``Fast. It happens like that. Fast and with a lot of force,″ Nye says. ``That’s why you’ve got to be real careful where you sit.″

The message was not lost on Lucy Jickling, a 5th grader at Lafayette Elementary School. ``I like to sit in the front but now I will sit in back,″ she said after a video preview.

The effort has the backing of the government’s highway safety agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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