Michigan Legal Milestones
27. Judge Henry Hart "Committee of One"
Judge Henry Hart of Midland, led a "one-man campaign" for the uniform placement of yellow "No Passing Zone" signs on the left side of Michigan roads. The signs, shaped in the form of a pennant, have served to decrease the number of traffic accidents in no passing zones and is credited with saving thousands of lives in Michigan. Dedicated and placed at the Midland County Courthouse on May 24, 1999.
Complete Text on Milestone Marker
Judge Henry Hart "Committee of One"
Midland is the home of the Honorable Henry Hart, who began his legal career here in 1937, serving as a municipal and district judge for 38 years. As a traffic court judge and traffic safety advocate, Judge Hart set a personal goal to improve highway safety in Michigan.
Judge Hart fought for the uniform placement of yellow "No Passing Zone" signs, shaped in the form of a pennant, on the left side of Michigan roads to decrease the number of traffic accidents in no passing zones. He was inspired after first spotting the signs in the 1960s while driving in the state of Iowa.
Often fighting alone, it took Judge Hart several years, but finally in 1972 he convinced the Michigan Highway Department and the Michigan legislature to model their sign placement after Iowa's. Although the law changed, the signs were slow in going up. Judge Hart went to the office of then Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley for support. An opinion was issued that stated, "If the law regarding the 'No Passing Zones' is disregarded by the Highway Department, it could be liable financially for accidents happening at 'No Passing Zones.'" A quick reply from the Michigan Highway Department promised that the signs would be in place no later than January 1, 1983. The installation of these signs has saved thousands of Michigan lives.
Even though he retired in 1982, Judge Hart continued to promote the "pennant" nation-wide, and as a result of his one-man campaign, he was honored with several awards. One national award came from the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3-M), a company that had worked with Hart on his traffic safety campaign. The award inscription read, "Your 'Committee of One' has made our highways safer for all motorists."
Placed by the State Bar of Michigan and Midland County Bar Association, 1999.