Its hard to believe that people considered children in cars, without carseats etc, safe right up until the mid eighties or so.
One of my earliest memories of advertising is of a TV commercial for a car, c. 1966-68. (Sadly I have not the faintest memory of what make or model was being sold.) It involved a young woman explaining to her brand-new husband exactly why this car would be absolutely perfect for them as a couple and burgeoning family: I remember her pointing out that it had roomy bench seats front and back, so that unlike a car with bucket seats it would have space for the baby. His comment: "All that room, for a tiny little baby?" The implication was that, in those days before safety seats, they were going to wrap their newborn in a blanket and lay it on the car seat between them. Great idea, just don't hit the brakes.
It's hard to believe that all of us kids from the late seventies/early eighties survived just fine!
My dad had some sort of anchor welded into our Rabbit, in 1981 or so, so when I showed up, there'd be a way to secure my carseat. He also learned to install my son's seat, and was impressed by all of its features. It's not like *no one* thought letting a kid go totally unsecured was a problem, it's just that that concern had to become mainstream before a lot of people did anything about it. Kind of like how people would make excuses for smoking years ago, but it's only recently that it's become really socially unacceptable.

I'm betting a lot of our parents wondered if it was safe to share seatbelts, or not use them at all, but let us do it anyway, because everyone else did.
My mom was born in the 30s, and to the end of her life she firmly believed that a child should never be 'all strapped down' in a car. She would wail, 'What if he starts to choke on something????'

(Well, Mom, first I'd pull over and deal with it, and then I'd yell really loud at the idiot who gave him something to choke on that he couldn't reach himself from his seat.)

She kept the little infant basket thing that she used for my brother and I in the mid 60s for me to use. It was designed to sit on the front seat and had folding handles for carrying it. When we were older, we would stand on the front seat, and when she had to stop fast, she'd fling her arm out to keep us from going through the windshield. Amazingly, we survived.
My Mum will occasionally fling her arm out to stop me from pitching forward in the car. I'm 40. Last time she did it, she whacked me really hard in the chest and knocked the wind out of me. Thanks, Mum!
"Please do not disturb"

Until you hit the brakes & Junior goes flying into the back of the front seat. Not to mention the puppy.
I love all the flailing about no car seats. No, we didn't have car seats, we didn't all die a horrible death, either.

Driving was probably a little safer *before* all the big interstates, anyway - you couldn't belt along at ninety miles an hour on a twist little highway, you had to pay attention and slow down.
Cars also did not go so fast, both because the cars didn't, and that the roads weren't as good as they are now. And at that point in time (30s) there just weren't as many cars.
I remember climbing up on the window shelf-thing in the back of a sedan and settling down for a nap when I was little. Amazing I didn't get hurt, especially since I also remember falling into the back seat from sudden stops!

Can you imagine if kids did that now? I don't even want to know what the fine is... (I'm guessing there's one in most states.)
Survivor of no car seats here! :)

Amazing how we all survived, isn't it? :)

Yeah, a car in the '30s would just chug along on bumpy back roads most of the time. :)
Kid of the 70's here... for years my grandparents weren't allowed to babysit me because my parents found out they were driving me around, as a toddler, with me sitting in the lap of whoever was driving so I could pretend to drive. A lot of people probably did it, but not my parents. Mom worked in a hospital and saw a lot of dead or maimed kids from car wrecks.