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The last great example of the greatest generation


By Jim Thompson
HCP Columnist

Young people in their twenties who fought or supported our troops in World War II were hailed as the greatest generation. In my case, it was my parents. In yours, it may be your grandparents, your great-grandparents, or in some cases your great-great-grandparents.

The last mass example of their actions is forgotten today at a time when we need to remember what they did and how effective it was.

It was in the fall of 1973. At that time, the largest generation was between 49 and 65 years old. Like I said, they had been through a lot and stood the test of time well.

In the realm of the federal government, regulation by unelected bureaucrats was still largely in its infancy. Federal safety regulations for automobiles were less than 10 years old and widely considered a good thing. OSHA and EPA had not yet reached their fifth birthday and had not sprouted the teeth they have since then. We trusted the FDA to protect us from bad drugs and bad food; it had not yet been politicized. In general, unlike today, I think a large majority of citizens would have said that the government’s intention was to keep our interests at heart. I know I would have said that at the time.

So what happened in the fall of 1973? 1974 automobiles were introduced. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had mandated a latching system for the front seat belts of all 1974 models. Simply put, if there was a driver or a driver and passenger in the front seat of a In a 1974 automobile, this mandatory locking system required those people to put their seat belts on before the car started.

It was a pretty clever system, given the state of computer chips at that time. You couldn’t just buckle the seat belt behind you and get in and out as you please, starting the car like you did in the past. The sequence was that you had to get in the car, put the seat belt on and then start the car. All front seat passengers had to follow this exact procedure or the car would not start.

Seat belt use at the time was very low. The oldest data I could find while researching this column dates back to 1984, when seat belt usage was 14% (it’s over 90% now).

How did it happen if, from 1974, the locking system existed? There was such hustle and bustle (especially from the older generation) that the US Congress revoked NHTSA’s 1974 seat belt mandate in October 1974. In fact, it was not only revoked, dealers were given permission to disable the system on all cars. , mostly 1974 models, which had the hated locking system.

Until the 1970s, many people believed they had a better chance of surviving an accident by not wearing a seatbelt. This had already been disproven by evidence from a number of crashes where the automobile was only slightly damaged but the occupants were thrown through the windshield.

Well, you might be wondering, how did we get to the current situation where there is over 90% seat belt usage? States passed laws requiring seat belt use, but there was a movement that was more effective than that. Schools started teaching our kids how to use seat belts, and they came home and harassed us until we started using them. I know, as a parent, it happened to me in the 1980s.

This glimpse into the past reminds me so much of what we see with the COVID-19 “vaccine” today (I am fully “vaccinated” – three shots). Just maybe, our reaction should be the same as the greatest generation when faced with excess government.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He can be reached at [email protected]

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