From the Archives: No joke — speeding tickets issued on April Fools’ Day

April 1, 1944: Sanford White, automative dealer, explains to officer H.L. Brown, writing ticket, tha
April 1, 1944: Sanford White, an automotive dealer, gets a speeding ticket from LAPD Officer H.L. Brown.
(George M. Lacks / Los Angeles Times)

On April Fools’ Day 1944, Los Angeles police kicked off a campaign to slow down speeding drivers. On the first day, staff photographer George M. Lacks accompanied Officer H.L. Brown.

The next morning's Los Angeles Times reported the first-day results. The article reported: “Besides being April Fools' Day, yesterday marked the beginning of Deputy Chief Bernard Caldwell's campaign to cut down speeding in Los Angeles. Reports up to 10 p.m. indicated the "take" was good. A total of 232 speed citations were written during the first 15 hours.”

Not all stops resulted in a ticket. “Motorcyclist Albert Keirns, 22,” The Times reported, “escaped a ticket when he explained he was reporting for Army duty within the next few days.”

Officer Brown, the account went on, “confided that nine out of every 10 motorists, when stopped, promptly exclaim: ‘Honest, Officer, I didn't know I was speeding.’ He pointed out that a total of 126 persons already have been killed in traffic mishaps so far this year, most of them due to speeding.”

An April 13, 1944, the L.A. Times’ follow-up story reported a total of 3,471 tickets issued in the campaign.

The typical fine? A June 14, 1944, Times article reported that comedian Jerry Colonna’s fine was $12 for “going 40 m.p.h. in a 25-mile zone and for dangerous movement.”

This post was originally published on the Sept. 5, 2013.

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here