When I spotted this carload of kids shot back in Ohio in 1969, I thought back on more innocent days when we counted on plastic statues on the dashboard to keep our precious cargo safe. The only restraint system most kids encountered was Mom’s arm hastily flung out in front of them.
These icons would have a tough time sticking to today’s padded dashboards that replaced nose-bending metal ones.
You can say what you want to about how “they don’t build them like they used to,” but that’s a good thing. My 2000 Odyssey van just turned over 170K miles. I used to have to trade cars about every two years when they had less than a third that much mileage. It’s true that cars suffer damage at lower speeds than they used to, but that’s because they are designed with “crumple zones” that eat up the energy of a crash rather than transmitting it to the vehicle’s occupants like the old solid-frame cars.
Seatbelts in the Buick LaSabre
My folks figured I needed more than plastic statues, particularly after I hit a bridge before I had driven 150 yards during Ernie Chiles’ attempt to teach me how to navigate the highways. They equipped the family’s 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon with some of the first after-market seatbelts to hit the market. My car and I were covering the Buck Nelson Flying Saucer Convention in Mountain View in this photo. You’ll read more about that later.
There was nothing automatic about those first belts. In fact, I’m not even sure they had quick-release buckles; you might have had to thread the belt through the buckle every time. I don’t remember if the wide front seat had two sets of belts or three. If it was the former, that was probably Mother’s idea of safety – it kept my date on the far side of the car.
I give Dad credit: he put them in the car for me, but he wore them religiously, if only to set a good example. Working hundreds of wrecks made me a seatbelt fanatic. When I encountered a passenger who didn’t want to buckle up, I’d give them a choice: buckle up or walk. Here’s a site that gives a good explanation of why seatbelts save lives and how they work. They’ve come a long way since my fabric belt bolted to the floor.
- Trooper Norman Copeland
- The humanity of crashes
- Car takes out sign at Evangelical United Church of Christ
- Sports car plows into Colonial Restaurant
- First car comes to cape in 1904; first crash reported in 1910
- A bridge too small
- Fender-bender at Fountain and Broadway
- Flo’s only accident in 29 years
- Deadly Old Appleton bridge set for replacement
- Wreck at Broadway and Perry shows neighborhood changes
- Big tire smashes into car
- Train vs. truck
- Nighttime car vs pole in front of Shoe Factory
- Broadway – Pacific crash shows businesses at night
- Buick didn’t stop on icy hill
- Funeral homes provided ambulance service