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March 11, 1974

Medical News

JAMA. 1974;227(10):1109-1119. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230230001001

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Air bags win passing marks in tests with humans at the wheel  Not long ago, a driver on a highway lost control of his car and rammed a parked police car head on. The patrol car was equipped with radar to catch speeders; so it is known that the speed at impact was exactly 68 MPH. Both cars were reduced to scrap.Ordinarily, the driver (who was not wearing his seat belt) would have been killed outright or at least would have been injured horribly; crashes like this leave few survivors. But this driver escaped with fractures of the distal radius and ulnar styloid, a cracked patella that was not even dislocated, and various contusions. His car was equipped with an air bag that inflated within 40 milliseconds of impact, cushioning his forward motion and probably saving his life.The wrecked car was one of the 1,871 that have been equipped with