In a world where rules and regulations continuously evolve to reflect growing societal awareness and technological advancements, the actions and behaviors that were once commonplace can now seem bewildering. Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, witnessed and partook in practices that would be deemed criminal or highly unsafe today. This generational shift in norms and laws underscores how far we’ve come in terms of public safety, health, and societal expectations. Here, we explore 12 things that baby boomers did that would be unthinkable, or even illegal, today. Prepare to be amazed at how much times have changed.

1. Hitchhiking Everywhere



Back in the day, hitchhiking was a common and accepted way to get around. Baby boomers didn’t think twice about sticking their thumbs out for a ride, relying on the goodwill of strangers for transportation. Today, this practice is seen as highly dangerous and is often illegal in many areas. The combination of safety concerns and increased awareness of potential dangers has made hitchhiking a relic of the past. Modern transportation options such as rideshare services and stricter laws have all but eliminated the practice. Reflecting on this now, it’s astonishing how common hitchhiking once was. The risks associated with hitchhiking, including accidents and criminal activity, have led to its decline.

2. Riding Without Seatbelts

Old Car


For baby boomers, seatbelts were often an afterthought. Many remember piling into cars without a single person buckling up, with children even sitting on laps in the front seat. Today, not wearing a seatbelt is not only unsafe but also illegal in most places, with laws mandating their use and enforcing strict penalties for non-compliance. The increased awareness of road safety and advancements in car safety regulations have made seatbelt use mandatory. It’s hard to imagine a time when driving without seatbelts was normal, given the strict enforcement of seatbelt laws today. The change highlights how far we’ve come in terms of automotive safety, with modern cars featuring advanced seatbelt technology to protect passengers.

3. Smoking Everywhere

Smoking on plabe


Smoking was once allowed in restaurants, airplanes, and even hospitals, with no designated smoking areas or restrictions. Baby boomers lived in a time when the dangers of smoking were not fully understood or acknowledged, and tobacco advertising was rampant. Nowadays, smoking is heavily regulated, with strict laws in place to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke. The shift in public health policies reflects a broader understanding of the health risks associated with smoking, leading to widespread smoking bans in public places. It’s startling to think of how pervasive smoking once was in public spaces. The changes in smoking laws illustrate a significant shift in societal norms and health consciousness, promoting a healthier environment for everyone.

4. Drinking and Driving

Drinking and driving


There was a time when drinking and driving were not taken as seriously as they are today. Baby boomers often recall a more lenient attitude towards this dangerous behavior, with fewer DUI checkpoints and less stringent laws. Now, DUI laws are stringent, with severe penalties to deter drunk driving, including hefty fines, license suspensions, and even imprisonment. Public awareness campaigns have also played a crucial role in changing attitudes toward drinking and driving, emphasizing the deadly consequences of impaired driving. The strict enforcement of DUI laws today starkly contrasts the past. This evolution highlights the growing emphasis on road safety and responsible behavior, aiming to reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities.

5. Letting Kids Roam Freely



Baby boomers often reminisce about the freedom they had as children to roam their neighborhoods without adult supervision. It was common for kids to spend entire days playing outside, exploring, and only returning home when the streetlights came on. Nowadays, this level of freedom is rare due to heightened concerns about child safety, including the risk of abduction and accidents. Modern parents are more likely to keep a close watch on their children, often arranging supervised playdates or enrolling them in organized activities. The cultural shift towards more protective parenting reflects a broader concern for child safety and well-being. It’s a significant change from the carefree days of the past. This transformation underscores the evolving nature of parenting and societal expectations, prioritizing the safety and security of children.

6. Playing with Hazardous Toys



Toys in the past were not always subject to the rigorous safety standards we have today. Baby boomers played with items that would be considered dangerous now, such as lead-painted toys, small parts that posed choking hazards, and even fireworks. Current regulations ensure that toys are tested for safety, protecting children from potential harm. The stricter standards are a response to past incidents and a growing understanding of child safety, leading to recalls of dangerous toys and the development of safer alternatives. It’s surprising to look back at some of the toys that were once considered normal. The improved safety standards represent a significant advancement in protecting children, ensuring that they can play safely without the risk of injury or exposure to harmful substances.

7. Using Lawn Darts



Lawn darts were a popular outdoor game among baby boomers, despite their potential to cause serious injury. These heavy, pointed darts, thrown at targets on the ground, were eventually banned after numerous accidents and injuries, including fatalities. Today’s games and sports equipment are designed with safety in mind, often undergoing thorough testing to prevent such hazards. The ban on lawn darts illustrates a proactive approach to preventing injuries, with manufacturers and regulators working together to develop safer alternatives. It’s a clear example of how safety concerns have reshaped recreational activities. The change highlights the ongoing efforts to ensure safer play environments for everyone, allowing families to enjoy outdoor activities without fear of harm.

8. Using Asbestos



Asbestos was once widely used in construction and household products, despite its dangerous health effects, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Baby boomers may remember asbestos being used in insulation, flooring, and even household items. Today, asbestos use is heavily regulated and often banned due to its links to serious illnesses. The strict regulations and bans on asbestos use highlight a significant improvement in public health protections. The transition from widespread use to stringent control represents a major advancement in health and safety standards. This change underscores the importance of ongoing health and safety research, leading to better protections for current and future generations.

9. Leaving Children Unattended in Cars

Child in a car


It was not uncommon for baby boomers to be left unattended in cars while their parents ran errands, often for extended periods. Modern laws make this practice illegal due to the dangers it poses to children, including the risk of heatstroke, abduction, and accidents. The increased awareness of these risks has led to stricter enforcement of child safety laws, with parents facing severe penalties for leaving children unattended in vehicles. This change reflects a broader commitment to protecting vulnerable individuals and ensuring that children are kept safe from harm. It’s a stark contrast to the more relaxed attitudes of the past. The evolution in laws and awareness highlights the growing emphasis on child safety, prioritizing their well-being in all circumstances.

10. Driving Without a License

No license


Baby boomers might recall a time when driving without a license was not as heavily policed as it is today. Stricter laws and enforcement now ensure that only licensed individuals can operate vehicles, enhancing road safety and ensuring that drivers are adequately trained and knowledgeable. The rigorous process of obtaining and maintaining a driver’s license reflects the importance of ensuring competent drivers on the road, with mandatory testing and renewal procedures. The contrast between past and present regulations highlights significant improvements in road safety standards. This shift underscores the importance of regulated driving practices, reducing the risk of accidents and ensuring a safer driving environment for everyone.

11. Using Leaded Gasoline



Next, leaded gasoline was the norm during the baby boomer era, despite its harmful environmental and health impacts, including air pollution and lead poisoning. The phase-out of leaded gasoline in favor of unleaded alternatives represents a significant advancement in public health and environmental protection, with regulations mandating the use of cleaner fuels. Modern regulations ensure that gasoline is formulated to minimize harmful emissions, contributing to cleaner air and a healthier environment. The transition from leaded to unleaded gasoline illustrates a proactive approach to addressing pollution and health concerns, with significant reductions in lead exposure and associated health risks. This change highlights the importance of ongoing improvements in environmental standards, promoting a healthier future for all.

12. Lack of Food Safety Standards



Food safety standards were not as stringent during the baby boomer era, leading to higher risks of foodborne illnesses and contamination. Today, strict regulations govern food production and handling to ensure public safety, with comprehensive safety protocols and regular inspections. The improved standards reflect a growing understanding of the importance of food safety. The evolution of food safety laws highlights significant advancements in protecting public health. The changes underscore the ongoing efforts to ensure that food products are safe for consumption.

Embrace the Changes for a Safer Future

Hard hat


Reflecting on these past practices highlights how much we’ve advanced in safety and health regulations. It’s vital to keep evolving our laws to protect public well-being. Let’s embrace change and work towards an even safer future for everyone. By learning from the past, we can create a better environment for future generations. If you found this article insightful, please share it with your friends and family, so others may know about the changes we’ve made over the years.

The post They Did What: 12 Things That Baby Boomers Did That Would Be Criminal Now appeared first on The Free Financial Advisor.

Last Update: July 10, 2024

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