For those drivers with a lead foot, a speeding ticket is an annoying—and expensive. And they’ve been around for a long time. Englishman Walter Arnold has the distinction of the being the first motorist to receive a speeding ticket. On January 28, 1896, he was cited for driving at the unruly speed of eight mph in a two-mph zone. That set him back one shilling. The first American was Jacob German, a New York cabbie. He got nailed for zooming along at 12 mph on Lexington Avenue. He didn’t get off as easily as Arnold though: he had to serve time in the hoosegow.
Transportation departments all over the world have devised many ways to keep drivers from exceeding the speed limit, including new, high-tech methods. Some municipalities utilize automated radar units that capture car’s license numbers, register its speed and send the driver a surprise in the mail. Doesn’t seem quite fair.
Several places around the world have come up with a fun solution: musical roads. Yes, certain sections of highway have been etched—much like the rumble strips on road shoulders that warn a driver that they’ve strayed off the roadway—in such a way that they “play” a tune when a car is driven over them at a specific speed. And that specific speed? You guessed it: the speed limit.
This project was funded by National Geographic’s cable channel as part of a series of experiments in altering social behavior.
One “singing highway” in Jelsum, Friesland, Finland, was dismantled after those living nearby complained (a lot) about hearing the tune over and over. That tune was “De Alde Friezen,” the official anthem of the province of Friesland. Guess they preferred speeding over an earfull of music.
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