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article number 606
article date 11-03-2016
copyright 2016 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Your Driving is Now Under Control; Safety and Courtesy for Drivers and Pedestrians, Indianapolis 1916
by Hoosier Motorist magazine staff

From the Volume 4, 1915-1916, Hoosier Motorist magazine.


The wide difference in traffic regulations in the cities of the United States has resulted in a movement for the standardization of traffic laws. The advocates of the movement, the leader of which is J. J. Cole, president of the Cole Motor Car Co., have turned their attention to the city of Indianapolis, where, owing to the large number of cars arriving yearly for the big race, conditions prevailed which made it necessary for the police department to make, what was considered a few years ago, stringent traffic rules.

These rules had been worked out in a vague way by various heads of the police department, but in the last two years Samuel V. Perrott, present superintendant of the police department of the city of Indianapolis, has devised a practical system for handling traffic that is considered, by the advocates of standardization, a model for effectiveness and simplicity.

WASHINGTON AND ILLINOIS STREETS, INDIANAPOLIS. The white lines are used to show the continuation of the sidewalks and to mark safety.

The figures in the center are, reading from left to right—M. E. Noblet, secretary Hoosier Motor Club; Samuel V. Perrott, Chief of the Indianapolis Police Department; James B. Wells, officer in charge of semephore, and H. W. Ball, Captain of the traffic division.

On the floor of the Claypool Hotel, shown in the background, is the headquarters of the Hoosier Motor Club and the Hoosier State Automobile Association. Photo by F. M. Hohenberger, Indianapolis.

One of the first changes made by Chief Perrott was to regulate traffic by the semaphore system instead of the whistle signals. Boston, Denver, Detroit and New York are now successfully using the semaphore system and it is being tried out in Chicago at present.

The whistle signal was never a success and the tourist still experiences trouble with it in the following cities, Chicago, Memphis, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Nashville, New Orleans and Seattle.

Two blasts of the whistle signals north and south traffic to proceed in the first three cities named and it signals east and west traffic to proceed in the last four named. Is it any wonder there is a movement on foot for the standardization of traffic rules?

The Semaphores in Indianapolis read “GO” and “STOP.” They are illuminated at night and attended by traffic officers in white uniforms so as to be more readily distinguished.

The motorist should remember that avenue traffic, at the four corners, viz: Ohio and Pennsylvania streets; Pennsylvania and Washington streets; Washington and Illinois streets, and Illinois and Ohio streets have no special signal. It turns north and south or east and west with the “GO” signal for the streets named.

Otherwise avenue traffic is considered north and south traffic and has the right of way.


The downtown crossings are marked with white lines to designate the continuation of the sidewalks. Pedestrians must keep within and vehicles must keep outside these lines. Neither vehicles nor pedestrians are allowed to cross until the semaphore signals “GO.”

Safety Zones.

A space six feet wide and seventy-five feet long, marked by white lines and guarded with iron standards connected by chains provides a safety zone for boarding street cars. The safety zone for street car passengers has eliminated a great number of accidents and is regarded with much favor by the Free American Pedestrian.

It is needless to say pedestrian regards the rules against cutting corners, crossing in the middle of the block and the rule requiring him to wait for a signal before crossing a street as an abridgement of his rights. He is becoming accustomed to it, however, and if the rule is applied long enough and vigorously enough it will not be necessary to fence in the streets as advocated by some “Safety First” theorists.

B. W. BALL, Captain of the Traffic Division.


The parking system as adopted in Indianapolis is working out to the satisfaction of all. Cars are allowed to park only in designated streets as shown in the accompanying cut. All other streets are restricted districts and cars can be left there for 15 minutes and no longer. At the entrance to buildings cars may stop long enough to take on and discharge passengers.



The dimming ordinance requires that any headlight displayed on any motor vehicle or bicycle shall be so constructed, equipped and operated that the reflected rays therefrom shall not rise higher than a line extended drawn parallel with and forty-two inches above the surface of the road on which such vehicle or bicycle may be standing or moving.


Courtesy requires motorists to obey traffic regulations, to give pedestrians a chance to cross safely before starting on the “GO” signal and to slow down for the safety of children. Courtesy as outlined in the folder recently distributed by the Hoosier Motor Club will result in less accidents and restrain freakish laws for the motorist.

Motor Clubs.

Motor clubs are composed of motorists who believe in obeying the law and are not for the protection of violators thereof. The members of the Hoosier Motor Club believe the traffic regulations in the city of Indianapolis are reasonable and they view with satisfaction the work of the police who are enforcing the laws fearlessly.

TRAFFIC RULES – Indianapolis.

Speed Limits—
Downtown . . . 10 miles per hour
Residence . . . 15 miles per hour
Parks . . . 20 miles per hour
Schools and Hospitals . . . 10 miles per hour
Crossings . . . 6 miles per hour

Direction . . . Semaphore
Danger . . . Warning by Officer

Drivers’ Signals—
Stop . . . Hand Verticle
Turning . . . Extend Arm
Slow . . . Arm Signal

Right of Way—
North and south, except Washington street and avenues.

Distance behind street cars
Downtown . . . Safety Zones
Residence . . . Stop

Distance from fire hydrants . . . 15 feet
Distance from corner . . . 20 feet

Parking Regulations—
Where prohibited:
Designated streets
Entrance to buildings

Position at curb . . . 45 degree angle

How Not to Park Cars — How to Park Cars


POLICE REPORT of Motorists Arrested for Violating the Law In 1915.

26—operating car under influence of liquor
56—unlawful use, joy riding
47—violation of dimmer ordinance
13—violation of muffler ordinance
190—violation of speed ordinance
10—operating car without license

General Motor Service Co. 30-44 W. Walnut Street at Illinois, Indianapolis. Phone – Main 1203. We have an expert Electrical Engineer direct from the Delco and Cole factory. Tell him your electrical troubles.


The following list of questions and answers for children was sent out about a month ago by The Hoosier Motor Club and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. At this time of the year, when children are apt to play on the streets, we deem the catechism to be very important for their personal safety.

1. What should you do before crossing a street?
Ans.—I should stop and look both ways, and when it is safe, cross the street quickly.

2. Where is the proper place for you or anyone to cross the street?
Ans.—At the crossings where it is less dangerous.

3. What should you do, if standing in the middle of the street, you should see automobiles or other vehicles coming in both directions?
Ans.—Stand perfectly still until they have passed by.

4. Should you help young children and old ladies to cross the street, and why?
Ans.—Yes, because it is the manly thing to do.

5. What danger is there in stealing a ride on an automobile or other vehicle?
Ans.—There is danger of being injured either by falling off or being run over when I jump off.

6. In case a child or anyone is injured by an automobile, or other vehicle, what is the first thing to do?
Ans.—Call help as quickly as possible.

7. What should you do if you see an automobile unattended standing on the street?
Ans.—I should not molest it in any way.

8. Why should you select side streets not frequented by automobiles and other vehicles on which to play?
Ans.—Because there is less danger of being injured on them.

9. If, when playing on the street, you should see an automobile or other vehicle approaching what ought you to do?
Ans.—I should get to a place of safety as quickly as possible.

10. When you are playing the street, what should you always keep in mind?
Ans.—That I have chosen a very dangerous place in which to play, and that I must be on the constant lookout for automobiles and other vehicles.

11. Why should you not play in the streets frequently used by automobilists?
Ans.—Because it is too dangerous.


By Samuel V. Perrott, Chief of Police, Indianapolis.

Samuel V. Perrott, Chief of Police, Indianapolis.


• Don’t operate your car without a license.
• Don’t drive your car, or allow anyone else to do so, while under the influence of liquor.
• Don’t drive faster than the law allows.
• Don’t permit your exhaust to smoke.
• Don’t drive with your muffler open.
• Don’t pass a street car on the left side.
• Don’t pass a street car while passengers are boarding it or being discharged.
• Don’t use glaring headlights.
• Don’t drive on the wrong side of the street.
• Don’t talk while driving.
• Don’t drive on the street car tracks.
• Don’t permit anyone under the age of 18 to operate your car.
• Don’t park your car in the restricted districts.
• Don’t drive in the safety zones.
• Don’t cross the street in the downtown district until the signal to “GO” has been given by the traffic officer.
• Don’t drive past the white lines at the street crossings until you have the signal to “GO.”
• Don’t slow-down, turn, or stop without signalling.
• Don’t pass children in the street at more than six miles per hour.
• Don’t cross Washington or Meridian streets without coming to a stop.
• Don’t argue with the traffic officer. He is Busy. Make complaints at police headquarters.
• Don’t expect to stop your car in time to avoid an accident when driving past children in the street or passing school houses at more than six miles per hour. It is more logical to expect to be indicted for criminal carelessness. Children in the street can be seen easily and the approaches to school houses are posted with danger signs.
• Don’t leave your car on the street unoccupied, with the engine running.


• Don’t walk while under the Influence of liquor.
• Don’t observe the styles on windy days, while crossing the street. “Watch your step.”
• Don’t cross the street without looking.
• Don’t cross the street, downtown, until the traffic officer gives the signal to “GO.” Move with the traffic.
• Don’t cross the street. in the middle of the block.
• Don’t walk outside the white lines at the street crossings.
• Don’t cut corners.

Blue Ribbon Products: Polishes, Soaps, Cements, Enamels and Seat Dressing. International Metal Polish Company, Indianapolis, Indiana.
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