Home » Autos & Vehicles » What is America’s Most Insane Automotive Law?
Governor Daniel Hasting

What is America’s Most Insane Automotive Law?

Automotive laws are conceptualized with the utmost consideration of life, human or otherwise. While laws are created to ensure the preservation of life and avoid accidents altogether, in the past, when the automobile industry was just taking shape, lawmakers scrambled to enforce governance in its use. But did you know that one particularly peculiar law was passed and approved that raised many questions?

In the late 1800s, Pennsylvania lawmakers required automobile owners to stop, disassemble, and hide the parts of their car whenever they encountered livestock to avoid frightening them.

Who is Governor Daniel Hastings?

Daniel H. Hastings was born on February 26, 1849, in Salona, Clinton County, Pennsylvania. He received his education locally and worked on his father’s farm. He tried several times to flee to join the Union Army during the American Civil War, following in the footsteps of his three older brothers, but his father always stopped him. Hastings was the 21st Governor of Pennsylvania from 1895 to 1899. (Source: Pennsylvania State Archives)

Which Governor Vetoed the Weirdest Automotive Law?

Governor Daniel Hastings directly impacted America’s automotive sector, protecting it against some of the most restrictive and ridiculous regulations ever devised.

In the early days of motoring, there were groups. Those who were already heavily invested in the horse as the primary motive force in human transportation were vehemently opposed to motorized carriages and did everything they could to stop or slow their progress.

Britain’s early lead in automobiles was primarily due to powerful horse-oriented lobbying. Regular steam-powered omnibuses ran throughout England as early as the 1820s, but a series of laws known as the Red Flag Laws severely hampered the development of the motoring industry.

The laws were named after famous examples that required someone to walk, wave a red flag, or carry a lantern in front of any motor vehicle. As you might expect, this was not exactly what most early motorists desired—the entire purpose of the automobile was to avoid being stuck behind some large, hairy, farting mammal.

The most well-known of these laws was a bill passed unanimously by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1896. According to the law, any motor vehicle:

Upon chance encounters with cattle or livestock to: [1] immediately stop the vehicle, [2] immediately and rapidly as possible disassemble the automobile, and [3] conceal the various components out of sight behind nearby bushes until equestrian or livestock is sufficiently pacified.

According to this law, a cow or horse will be so terrified that simply turning off the car won’t suffice. You’ll have to disassemble it and hide the pieces as if a horse will see a flywheel or an early crude carburetor and have flashbacks to the noisy, stinking terror he just encountered.

The law is obviously insane, motivated by ignorance and panic, and it would have passed if Governor Hastings had not vetoed it.

It’s unclear why the governor was the only voice of reason in this situation. Perhaps his time in the Union Army during the Civil War exposed him to advanced machineries such as balloons or ironclad steamships such as the advanced Monitor. (Source: Jalopnik)

Leave a Comment