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cliofaye's avatar

What were the driving laws of the 1920's in America?

Asked by cliofaye (405 points ) February 24th, 2012

I am doing a power point on the differences of driving between the 1920’s and current day. I cannot find anything on the subject on Google.

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6 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

During that period, most states based their traffic laws on the recommendations of one of the pioneers of traffic management, William P. Eno. He published this treatise on highway traffic control from 1899–1939. It should give you the information you’re looking for, and then some.

marinelife's avatar

“Only 39 states issued them [driver’s licenses] by 1935 and few required a test, despite widespread concern about incompetent drivers. Early motorists were taught to drive by automobile salesmen, family and friends, or organizations like the YMCA. By the 1930s, many high schools offered driver education.”

By the 1920s, congestion, accidents, and parking problems clogged city streets. Cities imposed speed limits, installed traffic signals, and tried one-way streets, parking restrictions, and parking meters to keep vehicles moving.

More traffic also meant more traffic laws. William P. Eno, a crusader for better traffic management, composed “Rules of the Road” and other traffic guides, which became the basis for many cities’ traffic laws. Traffic management, road maintenance, expanded police departments, and new construction ate up large segments of municipal budgets, and cities looked for new sources of revenue to cope with the presence of motor vehicles.”

“In the 1920s, traffic towers enabled police officers to see above trucks, trolleys, and heavy traffic as they operated signals.”

“Semaphore signals were common in cities in the 1920s. During the late 1920s, three position signals—the red, amber and green we know today—began to be used, and eventually became the standard.”

America on the Move

thorninmud's avatar

The first Eno book I linked to above is a record of Eno’s correspondence with various authorities in the US and Europe on matters of traffic control. It gives some interesting insights into the administrative process, and some of the kinks that the administrators were running into, but it’s kind of light on the actual traffic rules. Here’s another Eno book, published in 1920, that has more to do with the rules.

jenesiaspas's avatar

Well, let’s put it this way… Playboy Magazine showed bare ankle of the month, the driving speed was probably 20MPH and people had to wear a lot of bad clothes all at once, not to mention, people actually WORKED their asses off for a living. So what do you think?

cliofaye's avatar

@jenesiaspas that was completely irrevelant.

linguaphile's avatar

@thorninmud Your information is positively interesting!!! I never thought I’d be intrigued by traffic history! LOL!

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