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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

From our archives, 75 years ago

The region’s motorists were in a state of apoplexy after the Spokane head of the Washington State Patrol announced that troopers would strictly enforce a 40-mile-per-hour speed limit on all highways.

“It won’t be April Fool when the state patrolmen start tagging motorists on April 1,” said the WSP captain.

Auto club officials and bus operators howled in protest.

“Because a few motorists cross the state at 75 to 80 miles per hour is no reason for clamping down on all other motorists,” said the head of the Inland Automobile Association.

“It would tend to keep drivers near 40 when they should only travel 25, and to hold them to 40 when it would be perfectly safe to travel 50,” said the traffic manager for a bus company. “Tell me how that is promoting safety.”

The 40 mph speed limit was nothing new. Yet it had been previously considered, more or less, advisory. The state patrol had previously said the 40 mph statute was retained strictly to “enable easier conviction of reckless driving charges.”

The protesters were angry, but not too worried in the long run. They were confident that “the futility” of this order would soon become clear in Olympia.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1989: Supertanker Exxon Valdez ran aground and began leaking crude oil.