America’s automobile boom created new problems for drivers and politicians. Big city snarl-ups and parking misdemeanours became part of everyday life, with a corresponding increase in driver anger, as the alarming headline ‘Autoist Bites Two Cops’ indicates. This issue looks at ways of improving a transport infrastructure that was dangerously unregulated: from modern new highways and high-school driving instruction programmes to automated multi-storey car parks.
One of the highlights of this March of Time issue is the excerpt from President Truman’s speech at the 1948 Highway Safety Conference in which the president draws a wave of laughter from the audience as he jokes about how easy it is to get a driving licence. Truman’s point is deadly serious: by the late 1940s, half a million cars a month were rolling off the production lines, and the country’s road system and the whole legal infrastructure relating to traffic, was lagging dangerously behind. This issue, despite being bookended by a montage of honking horns and angry drivers, calmy focuses on the practical ways in which inventors and politicians were attempting to accommodate the nation’s new love affair with the automobile.