By Cory Doctorow at 4:02 am Sat, Nov 5, 2011
Here's an innovative automotive child-restraint system from 1961. Clearly this little tyke is enjoying her crash-webbing. Wonder why it never caught on?
Contest Entry--Easybaby Car Belt, 1961
My guess for why it never caught on – because if my parent’s contemporaries were anything like my parents, they saw no need for newfangled car restraints of any kind. They would say ‘put your butt down on that seat’ and then if you disobeyed or the car was involved in a crash, you were on your own.
Where is the journalistic accuracy here on BnoigBnoig?? You claim it’s a child restraint when it’s clearly described as a restraint for big cats, particularly those under the genus Panthera known as Panthera tigris. Sheesh! get your facts right!
Keep in mind that the ad is from 1961, and I believe the US didn’t require *regular* seat belts as mandatory safety items till the ’64 model year.
Mandatory seat belts. Another example of government intrusion: it weakens both the consumer and the company that has to fulfill big government’s frivolous mandates.
“p . . . o . . . e”
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In the late sixties, early seventies there were no child seats on the market and horrible gadgets like this one were the only choice. My parents actually cared about me becoming a human missile in the event of an accident so they bought a similar device from Sears. It was a black vest that linked into a belt on the car. I can remember wearing it– quite uncomfortable and humiliating (had to wear it outside the car on long road trips because it was time consuming to remove each time we left the car for a break). Thank you for bringing back a weird memory.
I completely forgot about those things. My brother and I used to have to wear them in the family Buick Skylark. If I remember there were a set of snaps and the vest attached to a belt installed in the trunk that came up from the top part of the back seat.
That horrible, black vinyl seat (basically melted to it in the summer.. no A/C)
yes pure torture
I was in one of those things, too. There was a mesh on the front, and when my parents explained that it was to keep the seat-belt from cutting into me in case of a crash, I imagined squeezing through the mesh like a play-dough fun-factory.
We had car-seats, though. Well, home-made booster-car-seats. I had a card-board box filled with old JC Penny’s catalogs, but my sister got a wooden-box made by my Dad. Both were covered with carpet. Hers was green, and mine was some g-d-awful combiantion of 1970s designer colors….
I’ll bet in a serious car accident these things nearly cut the child in half.
Perhaps because it was as bad or worse than not wearing a belt at all? Your child would literally be folded in half if stuck in one of these and you got in a wreck because the torso and legs would go forward while the hips stayed in place thanks to the belt. A better option would have included something to hold the childs torso in place as well.
Sounds like at least one commenter had something which did just that, but it was not comfortable. Todays technology could probably improve the comfort, and ease of removal, but I’m quite certain that the safety standards of today wouldn’t allow such a device.
I have a scar in my right eyebrow from 1958, when my mom ran into a beer truck and I took out the rearview mirror with my head. I was in my car seat, a wooden foot stool (which I still have). As a 6-year-old, I used it to see over the dashboard.
It was a low-speed crash, otherwise neither of us would have survived in a 1952 Pontiac Chieftan.
When seatbelts became standard in the 1960s, the novelty of them got me in the habit of always using them.
I appreciated the honesty of that toddler’s angry face and fists.
Ads these days show smiling, happy, photogenic babies no matter what the circumstance. The reality is, the time you most need your kid to be strapped down for his/her own safety is when they’re in the mood pictured above.
But yeah, I can’t imagine it would work well in a crash over about 25-30 mph.
Which was the top speed of cars back then, wasn’t it?
My dad installed similar restraints for my kid sisters (and lap belts for me and the adults) in the early 60’s. It used harnesses instead of a belt, though. I doubt it these things were nearly as effective as modern child restraints, but it would prevent the child from flying through the windshield and improved child morale by allowing her to sit or stand as she chose.
You have to wonder how many parents bought the thing to use on their children at home
“It need never be removed.”
Ha! This is great. Spine snapping, rib crushing safety! Why not just wrap the belt around the tyke’s neck?
We’re pretty stupid these days (self included), but most adults would recognize this as deadly now. What the hell? Nobody could mentally project the obvious fatal implications of this set-up?
I understand the shock through the filter of today, but keep in mind that, at most, a car of that era would have had a lap belt – and probably not that.
I was roughly that age in the early 1970’s, and I’m sure I was either free in the back seat or held in someone’s lap. We never wore seat belts of any sort in the car. I never wore one regularly until perhaps 1987, when I was driving my uncle’s Trans Am for the summer (what a wonderful loan) and kept sliding around on the vinyl seats.
Interesting that it was designed so that the child’s ability to sit, stand, lay down and roam the back seat at will wouldn’t be impeded. Hard for me to fathom now why that would be important to the parents. I remember my favorite place in the car back then was curled up in a footwell of the back seat.
Even the best body harness can’t prevent whiplash.
“It never need be removed” refers to the baby, right?
My grandfather legendarily left a toddler on the roof of the family car when he was packing the family of eight into the vehicle for a vacation. He just missed one! Honest mistake! He ended up driving several miles before realizing what kind of fuckup he’d made, turned around, and found his daughter on the side of the road, giggling and playing with rocks.
Sure, she could have easily been killed, and nowadays he’d be paid a few visits from child protective services, but it was the 1950s and kids were bouncier back then, so this is actually a pretty funny story when told around the dinner table.
Don’t make me stop this car, EasyBaby!
Maybe they “ran” out of “film” during the photo “shoot” and this is the “best” picture they “got”.
When we were small, our dad bought these things called “Kid Catchers”, which were little latches that went on the outside of the car, and prevented a child from opening the door from the inside. I still remember the package, showing a boy and girl tumbling out of a car on the highway.
We had those or something similar. Unlike some of the cars described above, though, our car also had lap belts in the back seat, and if we went anywhere at highway speed we were buckled into those.
These are also from the days before airconditioning and child-windows. They may be useless in a crash, but they should’ve helped prevent kids falling out open windows. (I know at least two people who survived doing that as kids.
Anybody remember sleeping in the back of a station wagon as your parents drove? My aunt had a station wagon with a skylight, so you could watch the stars as you lay there….
For a modern-day (and much safer) version of this, check out the “Ride Safer” vest: http://www.safetrafficsystem.com/ (Warning: loud, auto-play advertisement on main page)
My girlfriend has one of these for her daughter and while we have a daily-use car seat, this is great when we would otherwise have to lug a car seat around (i.e. rental cars, trips with the grandparents, etc.) – As always, pay attention to age/weight requirements and safety studies…
Oh, and it won’t fold her in half in an accident! o.O
I didn’t realize the Tiger Mom phenomena had been around so long.
My parents had those, or something very much like them, in their car in the late 1960s. My sister and I were put in them.
Yeah, I wore the vest. Just keep in mind that our present day safety systems will seem similarly outdated in roughly the same amount of time.
We still use lap belts on airplanes.
When I was a kid, my mom drove a 1973 Triumph TR6. It was a ragtop convertible, and she used to let me ride around, sans seat belt, standing up in the passenger seat. Times have changed slightly.
Regarding the restraint device shown here, I’ve seen something similar in the last few years, but it’s used to restrain dogs in cars.
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