Your License and Registration, Please
January 28, 1896: Walter Arnold gets a ticket. He is believed to be the first person to ever be given a ticket for speeding. He was fined for going 8 mph in town where the speed limit was 2 mph. He was fined one shilling plus costs. The first speed limit came from the United Kingdom’s Stage Carriage Act of 1832 where the idea was introduced that it was illegal to endanger the safety of a passenger or person by “furious driving”. No actual speed limit was set at that time. Then a series of Locomotive Acts were passed in 1861, 1865, and 1878 with the earliest of these introducing a top speed of 10 mph in the UK. This was reduced to 2 mph in towns and 4 mph in rural areas by the next act. The Locomotives on Highways Act of 1896 raised the limit to 14 mph which was estimated the speed at which a horse being driven “furiously” would travel.
Today, most countries have set maximums for traveling on their roads. Some have also set minimum speeds. Speed limits are posted via a traffic sign and are commonly set for various portions of roads by legislative bodies. Speeds are enforced by national or regional police. Today, the highest posted speed limit is 140 km/h (87 mph) for some roads in Poland and Bulgaria. Texas has a 40-mile long stretch of toll road with a limit of 85 mph (137 km/h). Some roads have no speed limit for certain classes of vehicles. The best known of these are Germany’s Autobahns. A German study found that the average speed on a 6-lane section of autobahn in free-flowing traffic was 142 km/h or 88 mph. There are some areas in other places in the world without posted limits, but because the roads are lower design, the speeds are also lower.
Speed limits are set in an attempt to cap traffic speed for a number of reasons. The most cited reasons are to improve traffic safety and reduce the number of traffic casualties from traffic collisions. The World Health Organization’s report, World report on road traffic injury prevention, identifies speed control as one of the best ways to reduce road casualties. The WHO estimates that there were 1.2 million people killed and 50 million injured on roads around the world in 2004. Another major reason for speed limits is environmental impact reductions. Vehicle noise, vibration, and emissions are lessened with lower speeds. Natural conditions of the roads are another reason for speed reduction as is done inside city limits.
There have been a number of studies showing that reductions in speed limits can reduce the number of traffic fatalities. Posting a lower speed limit doesn’t always make drivers drive at the new lower limit, but it does lower the average speed of all drivers. One of the first studies done in Sweden in 1990 showed that a reduction of 110 km/h to 90 km/h had speed lowered by 14 km/h and fatal crashes were reduced by 21%. Not all studies were this positive. In Australia in 1996, a report on speed decreases of 5-20 km/h showed no significant change as did the 1992 US study reporting on lowering speed limits by 5-15 mph. The WHO also reported (in 2002) that 22% of all injury related deaths were due to traffic accidents.
People spend so much time in their cars, and it’s a legal way to have fun by speeding a little bit or testing yourself a little bit, and you get to invest in your car. For some people, it becomes their baby. – Jordana Brewster
I think God’s going to come down and pull civilization over for speeding. – Steven Wright
I get speeding ticket like everybody else. If the restaurant is full I’m waiting in line like everybody else. – Mikhail Baryshnikov
Men are superior to women, for one thing they can urinate from a speeding car. – Will Durst
Also on this day: Beautiful Snow – In 1887, the largest snowflake on record was found.
Serendipitous Find – In 1754, Horace Walpole coined a new word.
Lighting the Night – In 1807, the first street was lit by gas light.
Challenged – In 1986, the Challenger exploded.
Yale Daily News – In 1878, the newspaper first saw print.