Monday, November 21, 2011

Top 5 Responses to "When I Was A Kid, There Were No Car Seats."

When you hear someone chuckle the above, remain calm.  Then take a deep breath and say, "Well, back then..."

5.  "... THERE WERE FEWER CARS ON THE ROAD."  In 1960 there were 74 million cars on the roads.  Not every household had a car.  And almost none had more than one.  And many women did not drive (well, many did not have jobs outside the home anyway, so what was the point?).  In 2004 there were 240 million motor vehicles on American roads.  By now, it might be just under 280 million.  And most women drive.  More cars means more traffic, more red lights being run, and significantly, more potentially distracted drivers.  The more cars there on the road, the more risk to each passenger.  We're only as strong as the weakest link.

4.  "... MOST CARS WERE ABOUT THE SAME SIZE."  We're talking passenger cars, that regular people could buy.  Minivans and SUVs hadn't been invented yet.  And, for those of you who remember those big boat-sized cars, there had huge crumple zones in front and back (until the Volkswagon Beetle and other compact cars came out).  Now you have Escalades and Suburbans on the same roads as Corollas and Fiestas.  With such dramatic differences in weight and size, the potential for serious injury is much greater.

3.  "... CARS DIDN'T TRAVEL AS FAST."  At least not as easily.  Today's cars are engineered more efficiently and designed so aerodynamically that you can hit 75 mph without hearing a rattle or a hum.  Can't say that about a Dodge Dart (from the late 70s).  So, local traffic running these days at 30 mph? Very rarely.  If you're not going at least 40 mph you're slowing everybody down.

2.  "... KIDS DID NOT SPEND NEARLY AS MUCH TIME IN THE CAR."  The average American child spends more time in a vehicle now than ever -- about an hour a day.  For younger children, the figure is likely higher, as they accompany their older siblings to and from school and activities, or their parents on everyday errands.  In "their" day, neighborhoods had town centers, where you could walk to get a carton of milk.  Now, most suburban families have to get into the car to do the simplest errands: pick up the dry cleaning, get the groceries, fill a prescription, etc.  I read a great quote on this at a popular parenting board: "Riding in a car is the most dangerous thing my kids do.  And they do it every day."

And the #1 reponse to "When I was a kid, we didn't have car seats, and I turned out ok" is:

1.  "WE'LL NEVER HEAR FROM THE KIDS WHO DIDN'T."  Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of fatal injury for children.  If we have the tools and the knowledge to protect our children from injury or death, shouldn't we use them?

We all have anecdotes about how our childhoods were simpler. Some may argue that the old days were better, and in many ways, they were. But there is no question that advancements in technology and communications have also enhanced (and prolonged) our lives. So resist the temptation to disregard today’s safety advice. Make sure your kids stay safe whenever they are in a car, so that in years to come (when their world is unrecognizable to us!), they, too, will be talking about "back in the day."

To read my 2009 post on the topic (with more sources and statistics links), click here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. I'm going to be traveling to Bali this coming April to visit my Dad with my daughter. Seat belts, especially kids car seats are very uncommon there but I'm planning on hiring one during my stay. My Dads response was when I was a kid, they never used one on me. This gives me a little more fire power when its brought up in conversation again. Thanks :)