A glimpse Back Today vs the 50’s – 60’s – What a Change

by Jack

Highway deaths averaged about 22 per 100,000 from roughly 1946 to 1981, then it started declining. Today it is about half that number. The reason for the decline? Cars are better engineered.  Most vehicles are in a utility class, they are built more for comfort or economy than speed.  They have airbags and crush zones all designed to keep you alive.

Just because fatals are down, I don’t think teenagers and young adults are better drivers today, in fact, in some ways they are worse.  They lack our experience of learning young and doing crazy stuff.

Car’s aren’t a big deal anymore.  You don’t have kids out on the strip on a Friday and Saturday night like the 60’s.  Hollywood will occasionally glamorize hot rodding, but it’s almost a nostalgic thing.   Today’s younger generation don’t want do invest their time and money in fixing up an old car like previous generations.  Overall, I suppose that’s a good thing.  I went through a lot of money in my hotrod days and it really didn’t get me anywhere, just a lot of tickets.

The really dangerous years were from 1956 through the 1970’s and those were my years.   Cars were very fast and teens could make them even faster on a modest budget.  Add to that a lot of keg parties, street racing and it was some wild times.

Very few of us from those good ol rock n roll years have not been in a vehicle accident or known someone killed in a wreck. Not surprisingly, these bygone years coincided with the age of Detroit muscle cars, drag racing, a lot of drinking and fast driving.

In my day, teens were really into cars as a status symbol and of course as a date magnet. Today, eh, pfffft. Nobody really cares that much about a car, even if you are in high school.  If a car gets you to school and back…eh, close enough!

Where it’s at now is computers, PC games, virtual reality, drones, phones and tablets, now this a whole other story, a high tech story with a lot of very, very rich bright young kids that would have been called a nerd in the 50’s and 60’s.

Looking back at those hot rod years, it’s safe to say kids today have definitely lost something.  They wouldn’t know a spark plug from a dipstick.  But, this generation has gained something and it likely a lot  more important to our collective future.  High tech is changing lives and saving lives.   So, I think we’ve come out ahead on this one. Kids are far safer and what they are into today can also lead them into a good paying career tomorrow.

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2 Responses to A glimpse Back Today vs the 50’s – 60’s – What a Change

  1. Cherokee Jack says:

    I spent my teen years in Visalia, where a thumb was the only means of public transportation. Child labor laws were probably mentioned in History class, but by the time I reached 14, (driver’s license age then) I had earned enough to buy a ’31 Model A Roadster. Within a few months I had to learn how to do a ring and valve job, if I wanted to maintain my new found freedom of movement.
    Today my smart phone decides what functions it will permit me to do, my car tells me when it needs servicing and will call the dealer for me to make an appointment. I have no idea what all those buttons on the dash are for. I figure if I don’t know what I’m missing, I probably don’t need it anyhow.
    The new technology overwhelms me sometimes, but it doesn’t intimidate me. It’s today’s culture that leaves me without much hope.
    Maybe AI is the answer. Maybe once the machines take over, they’ll stop all that feelgood nonsense that sounds so wonderful in the abstract, while it fails and fails and fails and…..
    An android making decisions in Sacramento could only be an improvement. But the machines will have to do it on their own. Our voters are too masochistic to change anything.

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