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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government


The New York Times
April 26, 1914

Only 23 Out of 182 Measures Introduced This Year Have Become Law.


Report on Legislation Affecting Motor Vehicles in Many States Prepared by A. A. A.

Much relief will be given to those interested in automobiles and motor trucks by a report just issued by the American Automobile Association showing the present status of motor vehicle and highway legislation, which the big organization of motor car owners has been watching very closely during the Winter and Spring.

Of ten Legislatures convened, eight have adjourned.  These are New York, New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi.  The Massachusetts session will continue another month or two and Rhode Island one month more.  The only other regular sessions will be in Georgia, to convene June 27, and in Louisiana, to convene May 11.

Record of bills up to the middle of April is as follows:

StateNo. of bills introduced:
Sen.H'seBills Pass.Bills Sign.Bills Vetoed.
New Jersey....915431
New York.....1518321
Rhode Island5632..
South Carolina.2522..

No drastic or very objectionable measure has been enacted in any State, but a number of bills approved by automobilists have been enacted.  Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island have adopted laws requiring lights on all vehicles at night.

Of fourteen bills in Kentucky, some very bad, only one got through.  It is a general measure which, as amended, fixes registration fees for motor cycles at $5, cars of 25 horse power and less $6, of 25 to 50 horse power $11, and of more than 50 horse power $20.

In Maryland the only important new law regulates speed of motor vehicles, prohibiting speed exceeding thirty-five miles an hour, and limits trucks weighing four to eight tons, with load, to fifteen miles an hour; those weighing more than eight tons to twelve miles, and traction engines to six miles.  It limits widths to 90 inches, gross weight to fourteen tons, and weight per inch of tire to 800 pounds.

New laws in Massachusetts prohibit use of muffler cut-outs, relate {scan failed} garages in Boston, and grant privileges to non-resident motorists. Forty-eight bills were introduced.

New York passed a bill making it a misdemeanor to violate traffic rules in New York City, but a bill to include motorcycles in the motor vehicle law, which passed both houses, was vetoed April 13.

Only one bill of general importance got through in New Jersey.  It authorizes park boards to limit the speed of motor vehicles, and even to exclude them from park drives.  The Administration measure to exempt motor vehicles from personal property tax and increase registration fees was defeated.  A bill authorizing the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to increase the number of special inspectors to thirty and to appoint men from other State departments upon request passed both houses, but was not approved.

An extraordinary session of the Ohio Legislature passed a general license bill to take the place of the law of last year that was declared unconstitutional.  It provides a fee of $2 for motor cycles, $3 for electric vehicles, $5 for all other motor vehicles, and $20 for dealers' licenses.  Chauffeurs must be examined and pay $1 for registration.

Mississippi also enacted a new law for the one declared unconstitutional.  It is called a "Privilege Tax" act and fixes the rates at which motor vehicles are permitted to use the roads as follows: Motor cycles $2.40, electric vehicles $4.80, commercial vehicles up to 4,400 pounds capacity $8.40, and exceeding this capacity $16.80, all other motor vehicles 36 cents per horse power.  The funds go for road improvement and repair.  A flat fee of $2 is required for registration and number tag.

Only one bill of more than local interest was enacted in Virginia.  It prohibits driving a truck, tractor, or traction engine fitted with cleats or lugs that will cause injury to the road over any turnpike that has been treated with bitumen or other binder.

Three other Virginia laws permit local authorities in Accomac, King William, and Spottsylvania Counties to levy special license taxes to provide funds for construction and maintenance of roads in these mountainous regions.  Another prohibits speeding of motor cars between Big Stone Gap and Appalachia in Wise County.

The only bills enacted in South Carolina were local measures permitting special automobile licenses in Beaufort and Oconee Counties to increase the road fund.

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