BABY CAR SEAT Inventor Leonard Rivkin 1962

Ah, the unsafe old days, when a family could load into a station wagon without regard for the safety of the children climbing from seat to seat without a strap in sight. Babies were particularly vulnerable—at best they were strapped into a backpack-like sack that hung on the back of a seat. Leonard Riv kin, a Colorado furniture store founder, is credited with the creation of car seats in 1963. Ford began offering them as options in 1965,

recommending that parents let kids play with them at home to get used to the confinement before heading out on the road. (If this seems late in the game, consider that seat belts weren’t standard equipment in U.S. cars until 1964.)

Pediatrician Seymour Charles became the Ralph Nader of car seat safety when he created Physicians for Automotive Safety in 1965 and began pushing for government regulation of car seat and seat belt laws. Government standards were set in 1971, and by the following year there were enough models for Consumer Reports to start rating them.

Legislation started passing in 1977—with exceptions being made for babes in arms.” By 1985 every state had some sort of car seat law. Having car seats and using them properly, however, proved two different things: A 2006 study showed that 72 percent of car seats were being used improperly.


A few car seats were manufactured as far back as the 1930s, but they didn’t protect children from car accidents. Instead, they were designed to boost little kids up so parents could easily see them in the rear view mirror.


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