THE BLOG
10/28/2014 04:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Keeping the Highways and Byways Safe

In 1906 the Keystone Automobile Club was established, and fifteen years later became affiliated with the newly formed National Motorists' Association, a group promoting national standards for roads, pedestrian and motorist safety, as well as the distribution of travel information. In the Library Company of Philadelphia's collection of photographs by the Philadelphia commercial studio The Photo-Illustrators are a number of publicity shots relating to the Keystone Automobile Club's activities during the 1920s through the 1940s.

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The Photo-Illustrators. Keystone Automobile Club Testing Site, gelatin silver photograph, ca. 1925. The Library Company of Philadelphia.

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The Photo-Illustrators. Awarding an Inspection Sticker, gelatin silver photograph, ca. 1925. The Library Company of Philadelphia.

At an unidentified location, the Keystone Automobile Club set up an area for motorists to test their car headlights. Club mechanics were on hand to make whatever adjustments deemed necessary before the awarding of a sticker indicating that the car possessed headlights meeting the city of Philadelphia's standards.

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The Photo-Illustrators. Keystone Automobile Club Motor Patrol Changing a Tire, gelatin silver photograph, ca. 1937. The Library Company of Philadelphia.

By the late 1930s motorcycle-riding members of the Club's motor patrol offered assistance to stranded motorists. Changing a tire with white gloves on might have been problematic for our distressed motorist, but it is a shame to think that this nattily dressed mechanic would get grease on his uniform while performing his duties.

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The Photo-Illustrators. Keystone Automobile Club's Safety Test Trailer in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, gelatin silver photograph, ca. 1937. The Library Company of Philadelphia.

In the summer of 1937, the Keystone Automobile Club launched a "new and effective safety weapon," the safety test trailer. Licensed drivers were invited to try out their skills in a series of tests housed in the 23-foot-long trailer. The safety trailer was also part of the Club's educational program aimed at future drivers, and along with posters, films, and textbooks sought to instill important safety lessons to students from elementary school through high school.
Although the safety test trailer may not be pulling into your community any time soon, the mission of automobile clubs today in promoting safe habits for drivers and pedestrians has not changed over the decades.