Chapter Eight - Technology and the Law: The Automobile (By James Willard Hurst, Edited by BJ Ard & William J. Novak)
69 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2022 Last revised: 29 Nov 2022
Date Written: 1949
In this chapter we are going to talk about some of the effects that the automobile has had upon the law and some of the effects that the law had upon the automobile. We could undoubtedly open up some worthwhile lines of thought if we talked about the automobile in relation to certain broader problems of which it is a part: for example, the effects of the internal combustion engine or the growth of all types of communication. But we shall have enough on our hands if we stick to the automobile, and even so in the limits of this chapter we can discuss at any length only the relation of the law and the passenger car. This is not merely an arbitrary limitation, however. Of the 32 million registered motor vehicles in the United States in 1940, substantially over 27 million were passenger cars, and a little under four and one-half million were motor trucks. Until the middle 1920s the proportion of trucks to passenger cars was much lower than this. Not only was the passenger car the center of the auto problem as a matter of gross figures; it was likewise the main aspect of the problem that men saw and reacted to. We may properly focus on it when we try to retrace the unplanned paths of the law’s responses to the motor vehicle.
Keywords: James Willard Hurst, J. Willard Hurst, Willard Hurst, technology and law, technology law, automobile, automobile law, automobile regulation
JEL Classification: K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation