Dakota Datebook

Speeding North Dakotans

Friday, May 25, 2012


As the prevalence of automobiles increased across the United States, people had to address the many effects — among these, dealing with and trying to prevent car accidents and fatalities. So, in May of 1953, it was good news when a report showed that car accidents, compared to the previous year, had lessened — and North Dakotans were doing a better job of driving, in general.

Of course, this was possibly due to a state Highway Patrol crackdown on “speeding, reckless driving and drunken driving” at the end of April, but Superintendent E.M. Klein of the patrol preferred, quote, “to believe North Dakota motorists have seen the light and decided to keep under the 60-mile-an-hour speed limit, to give up the practice of passing on curves and in general to have their cars under control at all times.”

Klein stated that speed was the number one highway killer, “regardless of whether the tendency to speed comes out of a bottle, hurry to get to work on time or merely from a yearning to go fast and show off.” He stated, “If everybody would just keep that speed now, [North Dakota’s] highway accident rate would drop to the next thing to nothing.”

Of course, as residents of North Dakota were reading this report, the Bismarck Tribune on this date published a photo of a car accident that morning involving a Bismarck man who was injured as his car went out of control and left the road on US 16, west of Mandan. The car traveled another 200 feet before landing right-side-up. The driver survived, but was taken to a hospital.

Another car accident was reported; this involved two fatalities and one trip to the hospital as two cars collided head-on nine miles south of Dickinson. The two fatalities raised the number of state deaths due to car accidents that May of 1953 to five. Even then, the number was better than May of the year before, when nine people died.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker


Devils Lake Journal, May 25, 1953, p2

Bismarck Tribune, May 25, 1953, p1


This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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