We don’t put the key in the ignition (or press the ignition button) without first buckling up, but auto manufacturers weren’t required to install seat belts until 1964- and still most people weren’t using them. Actually wearing one was optional until 1984 when New York became the 1st state to pass mandatory laws. Dual frontal airbags weren’t required until 1998.
There have always been in-car distractions- today’s are just slicker. Your dad’s car probably had an AM/FM radio -- first introduced in 1952 -- and a tape deck by 1970 with CD players being added about 20 years later.
But those options now seems primitive when compared to vehicle options today that range from satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and of course- GPS. 20 years ago, the only “voice enabled navigation” was asking the passenger with the fold out map which exit to take.
We can look back with nostalgia- but we have to say the safety advances are incredible- and we don’t just mean swapping the cigarette lighter for a USB port. The next big leap will be self-driving cars, which are being tested on the roads now in places like California and Pennsylvania. Experts believe accident rates will eventually plummet because 94 percent of road accidents in the U.S. involve human error. We imagine drivers relaxing in traffic- and using their VR headsets to pretend they’re burning rubber.