Fun Facts You May Not Have Known About Cars
We rely on our cars so much from day to day, and for a lot of us we just take them for granted and don't give them much more thought than we would, say, a refrigerator. But there's a whole lot more about cars that you probably didn't know, so here's a fun rundown of automotive trivia:
- Drivers in India, Japan, Australia and India all drive on the left side of the road, while pretty much the rest of the world drives on the right. We have come to think of left-hand driving as an odd trait, but historians have come to believe that it's actually the rest of the world that's out of step. Research shows that Romans rode on the left side of the road, and for some fairly solid reasons. Since most people are predominantly right-handed, riding a horse on the left leaves the right hand free to fend off attackers or to shake hands with a friend on horseback. It wasn't until the mid 1800s that many parts of the world switched sides for traffic.
- The first traffic laws were in place in 1861 -- called the Locomotive On Highways Act, it mandated a maximum weight of 12 tons and a speed limit of 10 mph. How they clocked speeders is unclear. Variations on the Locomotive Act remained until the turn of the 20th century, including a law that required any vehicle to be preceded by a man waving a red flag or lantern, limiting speed to 4 mph. A Pennsylvania law, intended to prevent vehicles from spooking livestock or horses, required all motorists piloting their "horseless carriages", upon chance encounters with cattle or livestock to (1) immediately stop the vehicle, (2) "immediately and as rapidly as possible ... disassemble the automobile", and (3) "conceal the various components out of sight, behind nearby bushes" until equestrian or livestock is sufficiently pacified. This law never went into effect.
- The first traffic accident in the United States occurred in Ohio City, Ohio in 1891. Engineer James Lambert and another man were driving an early gasoline-powered horseless carriage when the vehicle hit a tree root, tossing both men out. They sustained minor injuries. The first pedestrian fatality in the U.S. was in 1899, when a man in New York City was struck by an electric taxicab.
- Sometimes it seems like it'd be so much better to just fly above traffic until you got where you need to be...and several attempts have been made to make a roadable airplane (or a flying car). The Aerocar, the Fulton Airphibian, the Mizar and the Curtiss Autoplane were just a few examples. Never heard of them? That's not suprising. Considering how many people drive, it's just as well these projects never got off the ground.
- Along the same lines, the 1960s German Amphicar was a car that doubled as a boat -- President Lyndon Johnson had one at the LBJ Ranch and would regularly scare the daylights out of visitors by driving it into the Pedernales River while they were on board. Not surprisingly, the Amphicar didn't excel either as a car or as a boat.
We hope you enjoyed this look back at the early days of automotive trivia...and that the next time you need auto repair, you'll make an appointment with us at RoadMart, Inc in Dothan, AL!