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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Colgate Hoyt


The New York Times
December 15, 1909

Colgate Hoyt Would Have Chauffeurs Carry Them for Identification.

One of the regular bi-monthly vaudeville and smoker entertainments of the Automobile Club of America was held last night in the large assembly room of the club.  It attracted a large gathering with many members prominent in the financial and automobile worlds present.  There were several singing and juggling acts, which pleased the crowd very much, the real hit of the evening being scored by a troupe of Hawaiians, who sang and played native airs.

Colgate Hoyt, the well-known banker and former President of the club, expressed himself to a reporter for The New York Times as being heartily in sympathy with a change in the method of licensing chauffeurs.  He said also that summary punishment should be visited upon those drivers who sought refuge in flight after an accident, and said he believed that the strongest possible methods should be invoked by the police to put an end to this form of nuisance and public danger.

"Perhaps one of the best ways," he said, "would be to require every chauffeur—that is, every hired driver, whether of a private or public conveyance does not matter—to carry a license card which bears his photograph and signature.  He should be compelled under the law to show this card to any police officer who demanded it.  In case the photograph on the card did not bear the proper resemblance to the chauffeur showing it he should be made to sign his name in the presence of the officer.  In the event that the signature on the card was not matched by the one freshly made out the license should be revoked and that driver debarred from obtaining a new one.

"This leads naturally to the necessity for a Federal automobile law.  I believe it is possible and practicable under the inter-State commerce law, and it would be as a great protection to the community at large as to the owners and drivers of motor vehicles.  I sympathize with the work of the police in ending reckless driving, and I think all good citizens should come to their aid, owners as well as non-owners of automobiles.

"Proper lights which showed plainly the numbers of the license of the car should be compelled at night.  As to the manner of lighting or the size of the numbers, that is a point to be worked out later.  I believe foot-high numerals entirely unnecessary.  The police have now at hand a law compelling the proper lighting of car licenses, and they should rigidly enforce it."

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