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10 September 1953 Early motoring

 10 September 1953 Early motoring

The first driver’s licence to be issued in Australia was on 10 September 1906 in South Australia. Under the Motor Traffic Regulation Act of 1904, William Hargreaves of Woodville was issued with a licence to drive for 12 months. The fee was 10s for motor vehicles and 2s 6d for motorcycles. The Automobile Club, a forerunner of the RAA, was concerned about some of the regulations in the Act and the Club held a meeting of motorists to discuss the concerns. Some 90 people attended and as a result direct representations were made to the government and several improved amendments to the Act were secured. The general speed limit was 15 miles per hour, although in England the limit had been raised to 20 mph. Even so this was some improvement on the four to eight mph imposed in England in the early days of motoring when it was also necessary to have a man waving a red flag walking ahead of the vehicle.

However, speed limits varied from Council to Council and even within a council district. In Rundle and Hindley Streets, on a Saturday evening, vehicles were allowed to travel at only 3 mph. After a while the limit was raised to 4 mph but this remained the legal limit until the 1920s and even then it was raised to only 6 mph. Other city streets were restricted to 12 mph by the Motor Vehicle Act of 1907 while suburban and country councils chose either 15 mph or 20 mph. Strange anomalies could happen because of this. The common boundary between Kensington and Norwood Corporation and Burnside Council ran down the middle of Kensington Road (then called Marryatville Road). Kensington and Norwood imposed a speed limit of 15 mph while Burnside settled for 20 mph which meant there were two speed limits on the same road. Trams were not classified as motor vehicles and therefore could travel as a higher speed than cars.

Milestones in Motoring.
tuart Nicol, Bullock Tracks and Bitumen, RAA, 1978, p.39.

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