Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cars: A Menace to Public Safety in 1906

This February 1, 1906 YDP article offers a look at a time of transition, when cars and horses shared the road. Indianapolis was a larger and wealthier city than small Ypsi and likely the density of cars was higher there. DD recalls a 1907 story from Ypsi when the sight of a passing car on Washtenaw caused all of the Normal students out doing athletics (on fields then closer to Washtenaw) to pause and stare at it. Like as not we were slightly later to the game as far as sharing the road--but we eventually experienced the same tenuous sharing of Ypsi roadways.

"The supreme court has sustained the decision in the case of Susan Orner vs. William H. McIntyre, Auburn. She received $2,500 damages for injuries caused in a runaway started by McIntyre and his automobile. He ran the machine to within a few feet of the horses, although they were plunging wildly. Mr. Orner was thrown out and injured.

"The opinion delivered by the judge (Hadley) was the first on the subject in Indiana. In it he said: 'There is nothing dangerous in the use of an automobile when managed by an intelligent and prudent driver. Its guidance, its speed and its noise are all subject to quick and easy regulation, and under the control of a competent and considerate manager it is as harmless on the road as other vehicles in common use. It is the manner of driving an auto on the highway too often indulged in by thoughtless pleasure seekers and for the exploitation of a machine that constitutes a menace to public safety.'

"The court held that the care which the driver of an auto must give to his machine and the road he is traveling does not excuse him from the duty of observing horses that he meets and noticing whether or not they are frightened."


Allcars said...

Judge Hadley's comments are as current today as in 1906. A man named Wm. H. McIntyre was a pioneering auto manufacturer in Auburn...very possibly he was the automobile driver named in the story. Mr. McIntyre is played an interesting role in automotive history. To read an excellent short biography about him, see

Dusty D said...

Thank you Allcars--that was fascinating and I hadn't known about Mr. M. It certainly sounds like the same person. The "Imp" is a sporty little car! A bit more style than the stodgy Model T's made in these parts. Also like the top picture in the article. Thanks again! :)