It was on November 26, 1942 that President Roosevelt announced that the United States would begin a national gas rationing campaign on December 1st. All Americans had to display a sticker in their car window saying what category of gas ration they had. Everyone started out at “A,” which got people about four gallons a week. Local rationing boards were set up to assign a “B” or “C” ration to people who needed more gas if they could prove it was necessary for their work.
The campaign made propaganda posters that asked, “Is This Trip Necessary?” or said, “When you ride ALONE you ride with Hitler! Join a Car-Sharing Club TODAY!” Along with the gas rations, the national speed limit was set at 35 mph.
The gas rationing wasn’t a result of a gas shortage. The United States was self-sufficient in oil and was actually a major exporter of petroleum. But the Japanese had taken over the rubber plantations in the Dutch East Indies that produced 90 percent of America’s raw rubber, and there was no synthetic rubber. The government was afraid that if everyone kept driving, they would wear out tires that couldn’t be replaced. The factories and the entire war effort would come to a halt. So the United States' first national gas rationing campaign was a roundabout way to conserve rubber.
The gas ration continued until August of 1945.
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From The Writer's Almanac