Earlier this month we talked about roundabouts and their introduction to the world and all the benefits that they brought along with them. Thinking about that got our heads thinking about other introductions to the traffic world. Specifically, who made the first laws, and that leads us down a further hole into what and when things came first. The first license, the first plates, that sort of things.
The very first driver’s license came about in 1904 when the Motor Car Act became adopted in the UK. With it came new laws including the description of reckless driving and the penalties thereof. And so, a license to drive became required. At the time, however, there was no test or education necessary, just head down to the office, pay five shillings and fill out a form.
First License Plates
Before the license became necessary, plates saw use in France. France issued the first license plate in 1893. The first county to create an entire system for them was the Netherlands. The first state in the US to require license plates was New York in 1901, but oddly enough they were not issued by the government instead made by the vehicle’s owners. In 1903 Massachusetts made the first US state issued plates.
First Traffic Signs
Traffic signs have existed for millennia, believe it or not! Originally their use was predominantly as measurements of distance, roadside rocks and columns along major thoroughfares to important urban centers. The first modern sign system was created in 1895 by an Italian group of motorists the Italian Touring Club. in 1909, nine European countries agreed to use similar signage to indicate road conditions The current modern day system saw widespread adoption around 1950.
First Traffic Light
The first traffic light was created in the lat 1800’s outside British Parliament. It was a two color sign (red and green) and operated off gas. The light needed to be switched manually. After a month of us it exploded.