A friend of mine is expecting a baby and it really got me thinking about how much riding in a car has changed since I was a child in the 60's, I know I'm older than dirt. It's amazing that we survived without car seats. Now days kids have to be in a car seat until they weigh something like 80 pounds. Not really, but here in Colorado, babies must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are one year of age and at least 20 pounds. Children ages one to four and between 20 and 40 pounds must ride in an appropriate car seat. Children who are over age 4 but under age 6 ride in a booster car seat, unless they are over 55 inches tall. Children under 16 years old must be buckled in a seat belt. Children may ride in pickup truck beds in Colorado as long as the tailgate is closed and the children are sitting down. I love that last part about pickup trucks, Ford must have lobbied for that line. Truly, could it be more complicated? I would have either bought a pickup truck or strapped them into a booster until they were taller than me to avoid a ticket. Things have really changed for the now much safer but oh so boring car rides.
Those of us that grew up in the 1960's never rode in a car seat. Ever!! Even as babies, we didn't have a car seat. My mom used an infant travel bed that she would lay on the seat next to her. It was basically a cardboard box with cute fabric and a handle. We rode in that until we were old enough to sit up then we were on our own and did we ever have fun in the car.
When I was growing up we always had a VW bus.
You know, the vehicle that brings to mind hippies, the summer of love and was the equivalent of a Velveeta cheese box in an accident. Ours was really cool. My dad took out the middle seat and added bunk beds. The bunks went from the back of the drivers seat to the way back seat. Our VW bus had a sunroof, so my brother and I would sit on the top bunk with the top half of our bodies hanging out of the roof like drunk college kids in a Las Vegas limo on the strip. We were 4 and 3 when we started riding like that. It was so much fun, although I can still remember the taste of some nasty bugs that went into our mouths.
Our other favorite thing to do in the bus was car surfing. My brother and I would see who could stay standing the longest, without touching anything else in the car, while my mom would drive us somewhere. We lived on The Hill in Boulder and while driving to the Safeway on 28th was a challenge, the the winding, steep road up to the top of Flagstaff mountain was the equivalent of the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii. We both got so good that years later when we would ride the T (subway) in Boston we rarely had to hold on to anything. It's just like riding a bike, you don't forget the skill. I still try not to hold onto anything on the trains at Denver International Airport. I look back now and wonder how in the world anyone survived without car seats and how much fun we had without them.