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Before the reader settles down to thinking that he is reading about some errant condition of the lungs, it should be explained that the title is rather an inelegant, but certainly descriptive, name for what is officially called the Inflatable Occupant Restraint System for Automotive Vehicles.
Some years ago, safety belts seemed to be a real panacea for reducing injury and death in automotive crashes, and they have been exactly that in literally thousands of cases where they were given the opportunity. However, it soon became obvious that, in spite of large-scale promotional efforts, only a small percentage of the motoring public was taking full advantage of this excellent protection, and experts have been vigorously searching for an acceptable passive-restraint system which would not require the cooperation of automobile occupants.
Many types of systems have been suggested, ranging from complicated Rube Goldberg devices to simple improvements in the present belt
Hames LN. Air Bags. JAMA. 1970;214(6):1109. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03180060083017