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January 1, 1997

Update: Fatal Air Bag-Related Injuries to Children—United States, 1993-1996

JAMA. 1997;277(1):11-12. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540250019011

DUAL AIR BAGS will be required standard equipment in all new passenger cars sold in the United States beginning in 1997 and all light trucks sold in the United States in 1998 but are available now in many earlier-model vehicles. Air bags are designed to supplement the protection provided by safety belts in frontal crashes; when combined with lap and shoulder safety belts, air bags assist in preventing fatal and nonfatal injuries in motor-vehicle crashes. However, passenger-side air bags have been associated with injuries to children who, in almost all cases, were unrestrained or incorrectly restrained in the front seat.1-4 In 1993, approximately 1.4 million (0.8% of all vehicles registered) were equipped with passenger-side air bags, compared with an estimated 21.6 million vehicles (11.4% of all vehicles registered) in 1996 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA], unpublished data, 1996).

NHTSA, the National Transportation Safety