We often hear people complaining about the laws and rules of the roadway. However, it’s hard to imagine what our highways might be like without regulations.
In the early part of the last century, motorized vehicle travel was in its infancy. In the year 1909, there were only 200,000 automobiles in the United States, according to the Automobile Club of America. Just seven years later, the population of cars had blossomed to an astounding 2.25 million. A large portion of these automobiles, 65,000, were located in the Detroit, MI area, which was also quickly becoming the automobile manufacturing capital of North America.
During this time, there was much carnage on the roadways, and the automobile was getting a reputation for being inherently evil. It was for this reason, the city of Detroit took measures to curb this carnage and created traffic laws, devices, and policies. Detroit is recognized for having the first stop sign, one-way streets, and lane markings. Something of note was that the majority of fatalities came from pedestrians, particularly children. The roads were their playgrounds.
I found myself fascinated with these facts and figures after I found an article from the Detroit News regarding what it was like to drive an automobile during the years between 1900 and 1930. This article made me reflect on the many rules we must adhere to today and I began to ponder what would the roads be like without traffic laws.
For those interested in learning more about this time, below is a link to the Detroit News Article Titled 1900-1930: The Years of Driving Dangerously