My wife and I may have a heighten appreciation for auto safety these days with the arrival of three grandkids in the past 24 months. And our oldest daughter and her husband are about to head out with their 1 year old on that most American of all adventures, the Summer Car Trip. To say that times have changed is an understatement. The child car seats are now engineered like a jet fighter ejection seat – and maybe weigh about as much. Alan Shepard wasn’t so well protected when NASA technicians strapped him on to a Redstone rocket, lit the fuse, wished him good luck and ran!
Child restraint improvements are a good thing of course – compared with the flimsy chair things that parents used in the 50s and 60s. They were virtually no projection in the event of even minor crashes. Man, I’d rather not think about it.
But for every gain, there’s a loss. Gone are the days when a parent or neighbor could pile a bunch of kids into the back of a pickup truck or into every nook and cranny of a station wagon and drive off to the Dairy Queen on a hot summer night - sweaty heads hanging out of every window yelling out what flavor they intended to select that evening. Or letting the kids and family dog roam around the car at will on a long road trip (without A/C of course). Gone for the better – but still, something lost.