By on May 27, 2016

Nelson and Bud in the Vermont

by Richard A. Ratay

The first noteworthy attempt to drive across America began as many ill-advised feats do — on a bet. While visiting California in 1903, a 31-year old doctor named Horatio Jackson accepted a friend’s invitation to join him for a drink at San Francisco’s University Club.

It’s there, over a cocktail — or likely several — that Jackson found himself in debate with another gentleman on the topic of whether automobiles, then just beginning to appear on city streets, were merely a passing fad. An enthusiastic admirer of the new contraptions, Jackson passionately argued that cars were nothing less than the future of transportation.

In fact, Jackson boldly asserted, automobiles were already so rugged and reliable he could drive a car clear across the country back to his home in Vermont.

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By on May 6, 2016

Fuzzbuster II Radar Detector, Image: dave_7/Flickr

by Richard A. Ratay

In 1974, Congress passed legislation establishing the national highway speed limit of 55 mph. The original goal of the law was to conserve gas during the first OPEC Oil Crisis. Later, proponents of the lower limit argued it reduced highway fatalities. (Remember “55 Saves Lives”?) In time, studies showed the lower limit accomplished neither objective. It did, however, irk just about every driver across America.

Truckers were already equipped with their own means of skirting the new limit. Using their CB radios, long haul truck drivers kept each other informed about the whereabouts of “bear traps” and “Smokeys” lurking along the highways.

But drivers of automobiles sought their own weapon for combatting enforcement of the new lower speed limit. They found it in a device called “The Fuzzbuster.” Released a year before passage of the 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit, the Fuzzbuster was the creation of Dale Smith, an Ohio driver who had earlier found himself seething at the side of the road after being nabbed in a police speed trap.

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