A highway safety group is carrying a graphic message on the dangers of the automobile to an unexpected place--a chain of Washington-area movie theaters.

Starting Friday, movie fans at 10 area K-B theaters will be urged to buckle their automobile seat belts in between showings of regularly scheduled films such as "Sharkey's Machine," "Venom," and "Body Heat."

The seat belt message is part of a 10-minute documentary produced by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit insurance industry group.

Called "Faces in Crashes," the film shows the kind of facial injuries that people can suffer in automobile accidents and suggests such preventive measures as airbags and special laminated windshields, which are offered on some cars in Europe but not in the United States, as well as seat belts.

"I was very moved by the film," said K-B partner Ronald Goldman, who agreed to show "Faces" at 10 of the chain's 29 theaters.

Goldman said K-B rarely shows short subject films like "Faces," but he agreed to this one because it effectively "points out the benefits of safety belts , it doesn't cost any money for me to run it, it's not so horrible that kids will see it and wake up later with nightmares, and it might make them remember to buckle up their seat belts ."

Goldman said he also was influenced by the current campaign to toughen laws against drunken driving.

"I have seen some of those promotions; I have two young children and a wife and I don't want them hurt," he said. "If this film will help reduce injuries, then it's worth it."

The insurance institute has made other safety feature films, but they typically ran for 28 minutes--too long to be easily teamed with a regular commercial feature film, according to Ben Kelley, the institute senior vice president who directed and narrated "Faces."

Kelley said this is the first time that the institute has arranged to have one of its films shown at a commercial theater on a scheduled basis.