On this day in 1899 New York City taxicab driver Jacob German left his mark in history by becoming the first person in the United States to be cited for speeding while driving an automobile. German was a driver for the Electric Vehicle Company, which leased its cars to be used as taxis in the bustling city. The car that German was driving was known as an electrobat, which was a fully electric vehicle invented in 1894. There were about 60 of them operating as taxis in 1899. At the time New York had speed limits for horses and cars, it being 8 miles per hour when traveling straight and 4 miles per hour when going around a corner. German was traveling an astonishing 12 miles per hour that the bicycle officer who pulled him over actually arrested him and brought him to the precinct and imprisoned him! It is unclear if German was given a written citation or not. The first known paper citation in the US was given to Harry Myers in Dayton, Ohio in 1904. He was also traveling a breakneck 12 miles per hour. The first known speeding ticket issued to an automobile driver in the world actually came on January 28, 1896 and was issued to Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent. Arnold was caught going 8 miles per hour in a 2 mile per hour zone and earned a fine of 1 shilling!
In the video below shot by Thomas Edison in 1901 an electrobat can be seen entering the screen at about the 30 second mark. He is obviously not traveling with the lightning speed of Mr. German.