This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Using seat belts in the 1970s

When I learned to drive, in the 1970s, seat belts in cars were still a fairly new idea. I was the young generation who had to take classes in order to get our license, as opposed to my parents' generation, who I guess just mostly kind'a got behind the wheel of a car and figured it out themselves. At least that's what I heard. I had driving simulation in school, and movies that showed what happened with crashes, that sort of thing. So I didn't need all that much convincing to use seat belts.

Many of my friends in Phoenix were involved with motorsports, and since I liked sports cars and though I never raced, I followed their lead. They wore seat belts. I learned all of the defensive driving techniques, downshifting to stay on the power curve, accelerating into a turn, that kind of thing. The first rule of racing, of course, is that you can't win if you don't finish, and that meant staying alive.

At age 19 someone on the road in Phoenix did something stupid, and afterwards I remember looking up to see that I was still strapped into my car, wearing the seatbelt, alive. By the way, a special thank you to the Phoenix Fire Department, who was there in five minutes!

Of course, most of the people I knew didn't wear seat belts until they became required by law. And sometimes I think about the old days, when people didn't wear seat belts, and that mindset. I have to admit to being pretty shocked the first time I saw my parents wearing seat belts in their car! Of course, it was the law, so that made it all right.

Nowadays nobody minds when I put on a seatbelt when I get in their car. But I remember a time when that was a terrible insult to some people - so I didn't ride with those people.

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