Protecting the Pedestrian

The dawn of the automobile age in Nebraska brought with it wonderful new mobility–and

wondrous new hazards as well. This none-too-serious look at the very real danger cars posed

to pedestrians was published in 1910 under the title, “When An Automobile Runs a Person


“If it is any satisfaction to you when you are run over and smashed by an automobile, an

ingenious inventor has hit upon a plan for surely locating the joy rider or motor maniac who

runs over and smashes you and races away. The device is a rather intricate mechanical

contrivance that will shoot out license tags with the number of the automobile which runs

over you at the moment you are run over. As the machine mows you down and begins to

flatten you out, compressed air shoots out a shower of little tags that are contained in pipes

attached to the bumper of the machine. These pipes, of course, are worn on the automobile

by compulsion of the law. The law also provides that they must be filled with identification

tags, which, after a victim is smashed, will be strewn in a gentle shower over his remains and

along the road.

“The same inventor might as well go a bit further and fill his pipes with chloroform or ether

so that when you are run over, the chauffeur will be overcome and thereby prevented from

running away from the scene of the disaster. The mere fact that the chauffeur when so

overcome may go on riding at full speed in a senseless condition and run over half a dozen

more persons is only part of the hazard of the game. He can’t run very far while unconscious

and is certain to be picked up dead or alive.

“Another suggestion along this line is to fit the bumper of the auto with a dynamite carrier

that will blow the chauffeur out of his seat the moment he runs over anybody. Even if you

can’t identify him afterwards, you can probably get a line on him from the number of the

blown-up auto, the dynamite being planted so as not to blow the bumper away.”–Omaha

World Herald

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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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