January 28, 1896 – The first speeding ticket

In early 1896 the speed limit in London was a blazing 2 mph (3 km) and every motorist had to have a flag waver walk in front of them to alert people that an automobile was coming through. So when Walter Arnold raced through the streets of Paddock Wood, Kent on this day in 1896 at an astonishing 8 mph with no flag waver running in front of him a local constable was quick to take action. He jumped on his bicycle and gave chase for 5 miles before being able to stop the driver. Mr. Arnold was issued the world’s first recorded speeding ticket for an automobile and after appearing in court was fined one shilling. Mr. Arnold was one of the first auto dealers and manufacturers in London, selling Benz autos and also building them under license using the name Arnold Motor Carriage. Later that year the Locomotives Act raised the speed limit to a breath-taking 14 mph and removed the need for a flag waver. A race from London to Brighton, the “Emancipation Run,” was conducted to celebrate. Mr. Arnold participated, driving one of his own automobiles. 1896 Benz Velo, perhaps similar to the car that Mr. Arnold was driving when he was pulled over. Arnold licensed the design to build his own cars. His company produced 12 examples between 1896 and 1898. The were Benz bodies fitted with their own motor design.

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