Fact #8 - Answer

Strange to think it, but people were terrified of these ‘horseless carriages’ back at the dawn of the motorcar. And that’s not the half of this story (in fact, it’s more like a quarter).

Walter Arnold is the man famed for receiving the very first speeding ticket. He was also one of the first car dealers in the UK supplying Benz vehicles (which later became Mercedes Benz). On 28th January, 1896, he was driving one of the new inventions through an English village called Paddock Wood. He sped past a policeman at the giddy heights of 8 mph. It might sound very slow, but at the time the speed limit for these new contraptions was 2 mph, and the law also required someone to go ahead waving a red flag to warn unsuspecting pedestrians.

The policeman set off in hot pursuit on his – regulation issue police bicycle. 5 miles later, the police caught up with the road racer and issued him with four charges:

  1. For using a ‘locomotive without a horse’
  2. For having fewer than three persons in charge of the vehicle
  3. For driving over the speed limit of 2 mph (which became the first speeding fine)
  4. For not having his name and address on the vehicle

Arnold went to court to face these charges and was fined 5 shillings for the first charge, with a further shilling for each of the remaining three. But the publicity it created probably helped his new business boom, having been featured in most of the national papers. The case even helped influence changes to the law as shortly after the case, the requirement for a red flag waving footman was scrapped and the speed limit raised to 14 mph.

So, the next time you go for a drive, be thankful you don’t have to take a red flag with you and walk in front of the car waving it around like a ye olde footman.

Other speedy facts:

  • The fastest speeding ticket issued goes to Timothy Brady, who was caught going 172 mph in the UK. He was banned from driving for 3 years and spent 10 weeks in jail.
  • The fastest manmade objects are spacecraft, with the NASA Helios 2 having been recorded at travelling a staggering 157,078 mph during its mission to orbit the sun.
  • Some scientists have a theory that there is something faster than light, and these hypothetical particles are called Tachyons.

Want to know more about the birth of the motorcar?

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