William Howard Taft: Automobile Accidents and Near Misses


car accidents
 
Taft was the first sitting President to use automobiles regularly. And he was nearly the first President killed in a car accident. In March 1910 Taft's car was struck by a trolley in New York City and carried a half-block down Eighth Avenue. No one was hurt, but the President was shaken 1a.

Taft had several other mishaps in cars and trains during his public life SEE BELOW.


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Taft's near misses were reported in the newspapers on the dates noted below 1b:
Aug. 28, 1907  Taft's train derailed. He was unharmed. Then Secretary of War, "Taft aided in reassuring timid passengers."
 
Oct. 20, 1907  Horses pulling his carriage in Manila bolted. A bodyguard was able to grab the reins and steer the horses into a ditch.
 
Oct. 14, 1908  Taft, campaigning for the Presidency, was in another train derailment. He was up, smiling, and asking what happened by the time others reached him.
 
July 7, 1909  Near Ft. Ticonderoga, NY, Taft's car skidded on a wet road, its wheels locked. The crowd watched in "tense silence," followed by relief as the chauffer regained control.
 
Mar. 17, 1910  Taft rose from his car seat to warn his driver about a pedestrian. The driver veered, and almost hit a trolley.
 
Mar. 29, 1910  President Taft's car was rammed by a trolley in New York.
Taft achieved more dubious vehicular firsts while President. In September 1909 his car (with him as passenger) was caught in a speed trap in Newbury, MA, on a stretch of road where the speed limit had been recently reduced from 20mph to 8mph. He was apparently able to talk his way out of the ticket, once the police realized his identity 1c.

In 1921 Taft badly bruised his knees when his car skidded on a rainy Washington road 2a.

Cited Sources
  1. Bromley, Michael L. William Howard Taft and the First Motoring Presidency. Jefferson, NC: MacFarland, 2003.
        
    a  p.183  b  pp.182-183  c  p.200
  2. Ross, Ishbel. An American Family: The Tafts - 1678 to 1964. Cleveland, OH: World Publishing Co., 1964.
        
    a  p.326

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