Gringo in Guadalajara

Dangerous Seating

The most shocking cultural differences between the United States and Mexico may be the differences in child safety --- especially in cars.  While there are car seat laws in Mexico, they are rarely followed.  Based on my own informal survey, it seems that a majority of Mexican children ride in cars without seat belts or in the passenger seat.  Many parents carry their babies in their arms and often childen are seen literally bouncing about in back seats.  Of all the differences in culture between the two countries, this seems the most difficult to explain and to put into context.  It seems unconscionable to many Americans that Mexican parents would allow such things to take place.

A mother holds her baby in the front seat as the driver backs into traffic.

But this is a lesson in cultural differences.  What is seen as "normal" in one country can be seen as reprehensible in another.  More to the point, it is amazing how quickly these cultural norms have changed in the United States.  While it may be difficult to remember, the wave of child safety laws in the U.S. are relatively recent.  Even thirty years ago children often rode in the front seat or in the back without seat belts.    While seat belts existed, they were often seen as optional and the multitude of baby chairs and child booster laws had not yet come to pass.  Attitudes and times were different.  A similar phenomonon is now occuring in the U.S. with driving and cell phones.  10 years ago this was the norm, soon it will be downright illegal.

Still progress was made.  While many American parents these days are probably over-protective in numerous facets of the lives of the children, on the subject of car seating they probably do set a better example. []