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Old Road Rules Powered by Politeness, Fashion, and Safety

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1937 Cadillac Series 60 Sedan

Drivers today are well-schooled in the rules of the road. Whether or not they follow them, well, that’s a different story.

Yet, back in the day, when the whole driving craze got rolling, official rules and laws were less spelled out, and instead people were instructed “not only to be polite to their fellow drivers (and passengers), but to also keep everyone safe on the road,” according to the experts at MentalFloss.com.


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One rule that has not stood the test of time, however, since modern cars have windows, doors, and roofs, involves donning specialized motoring suits complete with head covering, gloves, goggles, and a long coat or duster to protect the driver from flying dirt, dust, and grime, reports MentalFloss.com.

Solo road trips were inconceivable in the 1800s, according to MentalFloss.com who cites the United Kingdom’s 1865 Locomotive Act, which “stipulated that at least three people must be present during all road trips: one to drive, a stoker, and one person to walk in front of the vehicle with a red flag and lantern,” to ensure the car drove super slowly and that other pedestrians and cars knew it was achieving a snail’s-like pace.

Alcohol was not to be consumed by the driver or the passengers, reports MentalFloss.com, just in case the driver became incapacitated and needed to resign that responsibility to one of the passengers.


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Often our out-of-town guests are left to fend for themselves in terms of getting to a loved one’s residence. But back in the day, decorum insisted that a host bear the responsibility of securing transportation for their guests, whether by picking them up at the station or coughing up the money for a taxi or other mode of transport, according to MentalFloss.com.

Talking too much as a passenger was also frowned upon according to MentalFloss.com who cites a 1920s rule that the less talking the better because too much talking annoyed the driver and implied that the passenger was not impressed with the landscape.

Even though these rules are outdated, the core of them still rings true today—drivers need to exercise caution, abstain from alcohol, think of others, and avoid distractions while driving.

News Source: Mental Floss