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Odd Automobile Rules

When automobiles first started showing up on city streets, they were thought by some to be a passing fad.  As of 2009 there were over two hundred and fifty million cars and light trucks registered in the United States per the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics. This didn’t include larger trucks and motorcycles. Even in the early years laws had to be made to address the growing “fad”, some stranger than others.

In 1901 Connecticut was the first state to enact a speed limit. The city limits maximum allowed speed was 12 miles per hour, but you could let loose outside the city at 15 MPH. The fastest sprinter runs over 15 MPH.  Even earlier the UK had a “locomotive law”, that required a person to walk alongside the vehicle waving a red flag to let others know it was coming, and to pace its speed, since it was only allowed to travel about 2 MPH. in 1903 New York issued the first set of uniform traffic rules. As late as the 1930’s several states had no speed limit and some didn’t even require a license to drive. A national speed limit was not enacted until 1974, set at 55 MPH. Although the early laws seemed ridiculous, at the time they were sensible; since nobody had any idea how fast a vehicle could go. There are some that may seem strange, or based in morals as opposed to laws and safety.

In South Carolina drivers can be cited for displaying what is seen as obscene material, such as parts of the human anatomy from your bumper. Other states have laws that even if you aren’t driving but the driver are drunk and you are as well, you will be arrested for drunk driving too. Arizona actually has a law that you cannot drive in reverse. This would be very difficult to avoid at the local grocery store, so get there early, pull in head first through two spots so you won’t have to back-up when you leave, and I hope you have a circular driveway. In California no vehicle may travel faster than 60 MPH without a driver, I think everyone can agree on this law. Parking comes with its own problems. In certain parts of Florida you are not allowed to park your pick-up truck in front of someone else’s house. Indiana does not allow backing into a space since the police can’t see your license plate. The Texaco Man would be pleased to see the gas pumping laws in NJ and OR, you can’t pump your own gas in those states. Oregon actually carries a $500 fine if you are caught pumping your own gas.

There are laws to address just about everything to do with an automobile, some addressing the safety of the time, some on moral grounds, some just silly. All states and towns across the country have had odd if not at least different automobile laws since they realized the “fad” was here to stay.