We recently wrote that Texas has among the highest speed limits in the nation. In light of just how much open road there is, many believe these higher speeds to be justifiable – if not entirely safe. Of course, speed limits and the freedoms we allow to cars have long been controversial topics.
As it happens, today marks a historic anniversary of driving in the United States. On May 21, 1901, the first speed limit for cars was passed by a state legislature. The state was Connecticut, and the law capped travel at no more than 12 mph (within city limits) and 15 mph out on the open road.
The automobile hadn’t been around for very long at this point. In fact, the word “automobile” had only been coined about two years earlier. But speed limits weren’t invented just for cars. America’s very first speed limit may date back to 1652, when New York was still known as New Amsterdam. That law decreed that “no wagons, carts or sleighs shall be run, rode or driven at a gallop,” and that operators of these vehicles needed to walk alongside them and guide their horses within the city.
Although these precautions seem quaint by today’s standards, they demonstrate that travel safety has always been a concern – especially when machines must interact in close quarters with pedestrians and other travelers. The speeds may be different today, but the compromises and tradeoffs are not.
If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident as a driver or pedestrian, please discuss your legal options with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.