I guess I grew up in the olden days, but when I was but a lass we didn't use seat belts or booster seats. We all just kind of ran amok. And if there was a reason to perform a sudden stop, you could feel safe knowing that mom or dad would swiftly fling their right arm across the chest of the person who was riding in front with them; the rest of us?: well we had to just hold an on hope for the best.
I don't remember when we started using seat belts, not until my teens and it still pains my dad that he has to use his. Most of the time he will tuck the chest harness under one of his arms so he doesn't have it going across his chest (he's a super safety minded kind of guy, he also believes that airbags are a ruse by the government to get us blown up when in an accident since that is what propels the airbag: explosives).
There are six kids in my family and two parents; the Suburban that I grew up riding in had two bench seats which held 3 people each and a big expanse at the back that two of the remaining kids plus the family dog (usually) got to roam around in. When going on vacation my dad would put all of our luggage flat in the 'way' back and then put the mattress from our sofa bed on top and that was the luxury that the we rode in.
We didn't have air conditioning, FM radio, automatic windows or a DVD player. If it was an especially long car ride, mom would bring along a 'boom box' and we would listen to such gems as the 'My Turn on Earth' or 'Saturday's Warrior' soundtracks or the jamming tunes of the Carpenters or Barry Manilow (all of us singing at the tops of our voices). If you hadn't used the facilities to relieve yourself before the journey began, you'd better hope that your bladder had a 5 hour capacity since there was no way dad was stopping for minutiae such as that.
For the family trip we took to Yellowstone National Park (in August) when I was 11 years old my parents did splurge and dad 'tinted' the windows to cut down on some of the heat. When we were sick of Karen or Barry we would turn off the boom box and sing such classics as 'The Lord said to Noah there's gonna be a floody-floody...' (if you don't know that one, I'd be happy to sing it to you, it's a gem). Good times were had on that trip, rumbling along in that great big beast. (BTW, dad would stop on that trip for potty breaks, he wasn't a masochist).
It was pure bliss. With my rose-colored glasses I remember no pinching, pulling, yelling, fighting, I told you so's, stop touching me's, or proving that someone else is wrong. Just music, laughter, and the partaking of the ambrosia of a good old family car ride.
But for some reason if we were driving between our home in Northern Nevada and my grandparents home in the California Bay Area (about a 5 hour drive and we made this drive at least once every two months for most of my childhood), you could guarantee that about on hour outside of our destination, the radio was turned off and silence was mandatory from the six children as dad had 'had enough!'
So why is it that GUARANTEED in the 5 minutes that my kids are strapped down on the way to swimming lessons have I reached my 'I've had enough!' limit by minute 1.333? There are only two of them in the back seat plus we have a radio, air conditioning (with their very own vents pointing directly at them), automatic windows and for very long trips a DVD player. For some reason my kids find it impossible to keep their hands and their pestering to themselves for any length of time in the car. Maybe we ought to go seatbeltless and see if that improves the mood in the car? I doubt I'd really do it, but sometimes I fantasize about the nirvana that a car ride might be if everyone got to do their own thing and we weren't all so strapped down. We'd be 'on top of the world'.
Darn the safety consciousness of it all!