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Tail Lights: Let's Be Civil This Time

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Tail Lights
Automotive History from a Different Perspective

Volume 6, Issue 3: Let's Be Civil This Time

Bill Crittenden
6 June 2017

Plain white 1964 Pontiac GTO at this week's Green Street Cruise Night in McHenry, Illinois.
In the past I've had a chance to explore the many, many ways people can commit crimes involving cars, trucks, the auto industry, and the auto parts industry via the FBI's press release archives. Not only have I been able to explore the topic of car crime a little further thanks to a huge project that's taken most of the spring, this time around I've been able to explore some of the many reasons lawsuits get filed on the civil side of the law: alleged violations of employment law, crash victims' families seeking damages, individual citizens as well as one famous advocacy group suing automakers over perceived product defects, all sorts of disputes between trucking companies and drivers, employment disputes at automobile dealerships, and of course every sort of disagreement that could possibly come up between insurance companies and their claimants.

This is thanks to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' YouTube channel. They started posting videos about the court and videos of selected proceedings in 2010, and moved to posting a huge number of proceedings late in 2014. They've even begun posting live YouTube feeds of some of their courtrooms, something that you might already be familiar with if you watched the Ninth Circuit's hearings on the Trump Administration's travel ban a few months ago.

I mentioned starting this in the last issue of Tail Lights way back in March. It's taken a few months of downloading from YouTube, reuploading to The Internet Archive, and generally pissing off my ISP, but I've scoured their channel for anything within the scope of The Crittenden Automotive Library and over 91 hours of video have been added to the Library from 2010-2017.

It's pretty dry stuff. Just static multi-camera setups of lawyers taking to a panel of judges. Worse yet, it's an appeals court. No witnesses, no evidence, no crime scene photos, no tense cross-examinations or expert witnesses wrangling over the facts of the incident. It's completely drama free, except for some exaggerated shrugs and snarky comments from the judges. Most of the time is spent discussing the courtroom procedure and points of law from the original cases in lower courts. So it's definitely not for the casual browser looking for "fun" car videos.

However, this sort of original "source material" is important to the mission of The Crittenden Automotive Library. We're not here to just post what's popular or what's cool or what gets the most clicks. It's about building a body of knowledge about automobiles and the wide variety of related topics that even serious professionals can find useful, so that academics, engineers, historians, and perhaps now even legal researchers will find something helpful in our collection.

But don't worry, I still intend on taking lots of pictures of cool old cars at shows & cruise nights this season!


Every $100 in contributions allows me to take a night off of the "regular job" and put more time into building The Crittenden Automotive Library.

PayPal address: admin@CarsAndRacingStuff.com
GoFundMe link: https://www.gofundme.com/3gll734

Major Additions

As well as the aforementioned 91 hours of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals videos, there are three more NASCAR full race broadcasts, 17 years of a FHWA newsletter (more on that below), hundreds of press releases from InventHelp about all sorts of gadgets and accessories, and over a hundred more press releases from the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Those last 3 NASCAR race broadcasts added just before this issue went out, almost nine and a half hours of racing, put us over 2 weeks mark of video!

There's also a new archive of President Donald Trump's tweets regarding anything covered in The Crittenden Automotive Library, going back to the beginning of his account in 2011. He was apparently very fond of quoting Henry Ford in the early years of his Twitter account.

History Beyond the Fenders

The Crittenden Automotive Library includes information from all aspects of automotive transportation and competition. This section highlights some new material added to the Library about a topic other than vehicles themselves.

A couple of the loose ends I've tied up already this year was catching up with the FHWA's newsletter "Successes in Stewardship" and the just-mentioned NMDOT press releases. Successes in Stewardship is a short monthly newsletter about projects that have improved highways while also protecting the environment.

I decided way back in 2006 when I started all of this to include roads & highways as part of the scope of The Crittenden Automotive Library. Cars had just come out and I've always been well aware that historic highways like Route 66 and the Interstate Highway System are a big part of automotive history.

What modern "car guy" doesn't have a love for the autobahn? Who's into pre-war cars and doesn't know about the Lincoln Highway?

The way roads have changed play such an important part in automotive transportation over the decades. The first big-wheeled, high-riding cars look odd on a modern highway, but they weren't made that way because we couldn't figure out how to make small wheels. They were built that way so that they could traverse the muddy dirt ruts that we sometimes called rural roads in the early 1900's.

The iconic big 1960's station wagon evokes memories of rolling down the interstate for those old enough to remember, the highway itself a marvel of engineering when it opened. We soon discovered it wasn't as clever as we thought once we discovered that the flat, straight stretches going on for miles induced something we'd come to call highway hypnosis.

Today's issue seems to be that more and more cars are being squeezed into highways that aren't able to grow to accommodate the increase in traffic. Whether it's lack of space or lack of money, our commute times are growing, and we're getting bored behind the wheel. Autonomous vehicles promise to alleviate some of this boredom and let commuters reclaim a few hours of their lives each week, provided the software can read the lane lines and signs on highways that even at their best aren't standardized nationally and local roads that aren't even standardized from town to town. Tomorrow's roads will have to take into account not only human drivers but also the computer drivers and will need to take design cues from the limitations of the sensors & software available from companies like Tesla and Uber.

It's a topic that's important because of how influential the roads we drive on are to the cars we drive on them.

Well, in the interest of covering even the mundane parts of automotive history I found my way into the Federal Highway Administration's website. Press releases, newsletters, studies, and reports have found their way into the Library along with FHWA's notices from the Federal Register. Catching up with Successes in Stewardship was a first step in filling in the gaps that have formed since I've checked in less frequently.

If you're wondering why I've included only one seemingly random state, it's because state publications aren't exempt from copyright the way federal materials are. So I sent out emails to all the state Departments of Transportation, and New Mexico was the only one that granted permission for me to republish their press releases. Thank you New Mexico!


The Dewey Decimal System's designation for automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and driving fall within the 629.2 range. In addition to the online collection, Library Owner Bill Crittenden's personal collection of books, magazines, and miscellaneous papers is available for reference, and this section highlights new materials available on the online Library's Reference Desk and notices of new books being published.

Two issues in a row with new Reference Desk entries! It's been 3 months since the last Tail Lights, so I've had plenty of time.

A few months ago I took my son to the Schaumburg Library where I spent a lot of my later teenage hours (the new building opened in 1996, I spent many more hours at the old building before then). It's an inspiring sight, many times bigger than our local Woodstock Library where I live now.

I remember feeling at an early age that enough knowledge and information could solve all problems. When you're standing in the middle of a collection that totals over half a million items, you start to feel like you could learn to do anything given enough time. It's a powerful and inspiring feeling, and I'm sure it contributed to my admiration for libraries and my love of collecting & sharing information that led to me creating The Crittenden Automotive Library.

Of course, after the library trip we couldn't leave Schaumburg without stopping at Half Price Books to add to my own, much more meager, collection. Not only did we pick up a few books but also an original vinyl album of REO Speedwagon's self-titled 1971 album with a drawing of a truck grille on the front.

Do check out bookstores' audio collections if you're out looking, because not only are these little gems great for decorating the wall even if you don't have a turntable, but I've also recently discovered that Formula 1 races used to be put onto vinyl for people to listen to in the 1960's.

1980 BookJaguar: The history of a great British car by Andrew Whyte; Patrick Stephens, Cambridge
1983 Book1983 Oldsmobile Chassis Service Manual: Cutlass, Delta 88, Custom Cruiser, Ninety-Eight, Toronado; General Motors Corporation
1996 BookFifties Flashback: The American Car by Dennis Adler; Crestline
1999 BookOldsmobile Cutlass 1974 thru 1988 Haynes Repair Manual: All rear-wheel drive V6 & V8 Models by Scott Mauck, Mike Forsythe, and John B. Haynes; Haynes
2005 BookChoppers: Heavy Metal Art by Mike Seate, photography by Michael Lichter; Lowe & B. Hould Publishers
2006 BookWindshield Wilderness: Cars, Roads, and Nature in Washington's National Parks by David Louter; University of Washington Press
2012 BookThe Top Gear Story: The 100% Unofficial Story of the Most Famous Car Show…in the World by Martin Roach; John Blake

New from Veloce Publishing
France: The Essential Guide for Car Enthusiasts – (New Edition)
A Life in Car Design
Jaguar, Lotus, TVR by Oliver Winterbottom
Ducati 916 (Updated and enlarged edition) by Ian Falloon
The Essential Buyer's Guide: BMW Z3 Roadster
The Essential Buyer's Guide: Alfa Romeo Alfasud

Forthcoming titles are listed at http://www.veloce.co.uk/shop/products/productList.php?prod_group=coming_soon

To get a mention here, just email admin@CarsAndRacingStuff.com and let us know what's being published and when it'll be out.

Current Library Statistics (since 15 March 2017)

Articles: 37,273 (+1,027)
Images: over 34,370 estimated (+75)
Publications: 716,941 pages in 9,197 documents (+659 pages in 234 more documents)
Video: 2 weeks & 4:10:24 (+4 days and 6:50:56)
Audio: 2 weeks, 5 days, 17:25:47 (same)
Event Photography: 189 sets (+1)

February 2017: 11,844 page views from 6,220 total users for month, daily average of 423 views from 222.1 users.

Page views and user information provided by Google Analytics.

Current Social Media Statistics (since 15 March 2017)

Facebook: 473 Likes (-1)
Google+: 73 Followers (+5)
Instagram: 625 Followers (+35)
Pinterest: 33 Followers (+3)
Tumblr: 267 Followers (+60)
Twitter @CrittendenAuto: 1,811 Followers (+51)
Twitter @Crittenden_RT: 100 Followers (+10)
YouTube: 416 Subscribers

About The Crittenden Automotive Library

The Crittenden Automotive Library @ CarsAndRacingStuff.com, based in Woodstock, Illinois, is an online collection of information relating to not only cars, trucks, and motorcycles, but also the roads they drive on, the races they compete in, cultural works based on them, government regulation of them, and the people who design, build, and drive them.  We are dedicated to the preservation and free distribution of information relating to all types of cars and road-going vehicles for those seeking the greater understanding of these very important elements of modern society, how automobiles have affected how people live around the world, or for the general study of automotive history and anthropology.  In addition to the historical knowledge, we preserve current events for future generations.

The Library currently consists of over 716,000 pages of books, periodicals, and documents, over 38,300 individual articles, more than 13 days of video and 19 days of audio, more than 34,300 photographs & other images, and a Reference Desk with more than 230 book volumes and thousands of advertising brochures & documents kept available for the information they contain but can't be copied into the online Library for sharing due to copyright.

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