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First U.S. speeder caught on this date in 1899

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Electric Vehicle Company taxis in NYC (NYPL)

Speeding is big business. There's no money to be made from it as an individual of course, unless you subscribe to the theory "time is money".

But the U.S. Census Bureau estimates 100,000 Americans are ticketed for speeding every day, at an average cost of $150 per ticket--$5.5 billion a year in revenue.

There'll only ever be one "first" speeding offense though, and you might be surprised to learn that it was for an electric car.

It was also a taxi driver, which you'll be less surprised about. And a taxi driver in New York at that. "Get outta here," you shout at the computer screen, reaching for the Ritalin.

Way back on May 20, 1899, taxi driver Jacob German was caught doing a heady 12 mph down Lexington Street in Manhattan. Caught both figureatively and literally, as a bicycle-mounted police officer clocked Mr German at the illegal speed and set off in pursuit.

Today I Found Out says the limit at the time was a more sedate 8 mph, or 4 mph around corners. Perhaps, as many electric drivers today have discovered, the relative silence of electric running leads to rather higher speeds than you're expecting.

Reports seem to suggest the reckless Mr German didn't receive a paper ticket though--that honor going to a Mr Myers of Dayton, Ohio in 1904, according to Ohio History Central--and instead spent some time behind bars.

Mr German drove for the Electric Vehicle Company, which ran taxis throughout New York. In fact, electric taxis were incredibly common back in 1899--Today I Found Out also reveals that 90 percent of NYC taxis were electric back in those days.

The period holds other significance for electric cars, too. Just one year earlier the first land-speed record was set by Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat in an electric car.

We can't imagine what that police officer would have thought of Gaston's 39.24 mph speed, though...

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