Early Restrictions on Mechanical Vehicles

  • 27 May 2023
  • Early Vehicles
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The notorious Red Flag Act of 1865 had imposed speed limits of 4 m.p.h in the country, and 2 m.p.h in the towns, and required all 'road locomotives' to be attended by at least three persons, one of whom was to walk 60 yards ahead carrying a red flag by day and a red lamp by night.                    An Act of 1878 reduced the distance to 20 yards and left it to the local authorities insisted that a flag should be carried, but the Act did not specify the size of the flag, and this was exploited by Henry Hewetson, the English agent for Benz engines, who infuriated the police by having his young son carry an inch of red ribbon tied to a pencil. By 1896, all vehicles of less than a ton and a half could be 12 m.p.h, and in that year, the abolition of the Red Flag rule led to the 'Emancipation Day' which was celebrated by the London to Brighton run.