I'm trying to locate a short story, probably written in the 1970s but likely before the oil crisis, about a day in the lives of two officers and one medic on a patrol car riding the highways of the U.S. and Canada at speeds of over 400 miles per hour.

They eat, shower and sleep in their vehicle as they patrol, rescue and arrest drivers over hundreds on miles of road. It's either a multi-national patrol or the two countries have merged in some fashion. I probably read this in an anthology, possibly in the 1980s or 1990s.

  • @user14111, I followed your link to Gutenberg and that's it. 1963 in Analog, I was way off on the time frame. You should write it up. Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 22:05

1 Answer 1


"Code Three", a novella by Rick Raphael, available at Project Gutenberg. It was originally published in Analog Science Fact & Science Fiction, February 1963, and reprinted in the 1991 Asimov-Greenberg-Waugh anthology The Mammoth Book of New World Science Fiction: Short Novels of the 1960s. There was a sequel called "Once a Cop" and a fix-up novel also titled Code Three. This series has come up before.

This was just one small segment of the Continental Thruway system that spanned North America from coast to coast and crisscrossed north and south under the Three Nation Road Compact from the southern tip of Mexico into Canada and Alaska.

Each arterial cut a five-mile-wide path across the continent and from one end to the other, the only structures along the roadways were the turretlike NorCon Patrol check and relay stations—looming up at one-hundred-mile intervals like the fire control islands of earlier-day aircraft carriers.

Car 56 with Trooper Sergeant Ben Martin, Trooper Clay Ferguson and Medical-Surgical Officer Kelly Lightfoot, would take their first ten-day patrol on NAT 26-west. Barring major disaster, they would eat, sleep and work the entire time from their car; out of sight of any but distant cities until they had reached Los Angeles at the end of the patrol. Then a five-day resupply and briefing period and back onto another thruway.

During the coming patrol they would cross ten state lines as if they didn't exist. And as far as thruway traffic control and authority was concerned, state and national boundaries actually didn't exist. With the growth of the old interstate highway system and the Alcan Highway it became increasingly evident that variation in motor vehicle laws from state to state and country to country were creating impossible situations for any uniform safety control.

[. . . .]

There was no challenge to the authority of NorCon. Public demand for faster and more powerful vehicles had forced the automotive industry to put more and more power under the touch of the ever-growing millions of drivers crowding the continent's roads. Piston drive gave way to turbojet; turbojet was boosted by a modification of ram jet and air-cushion drive was added. In the last two years, the first of the nuclear reaction mass engines had hit the roads. Even as the hot Ferraris and Jags of the mid-'60s would have been suicide vehicles on the T-model roads of the '20s so would today's vehicles be on the interstates of the '60s. But building roads capable of handling three hundred to four hundred miles an hour speeds was beyond the financial and engineering capabilities of individual states and nations. Thus grew the continental thruways with their four speed lanes in each direction, each a half-mile wide separated east and west and north and south by a half-mile-wide landscaped divider. Under the Three Nation Compact, the thruways now wove a net across the entire North American continent.

  • Good to know about the sequel. Thanks! Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 22:07
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    Just imagining that makes me sad. All that wasted land and space given to roads way to wide to be any good at all. But it is fun to see how the "future" differs from Sci-fi, and how it is the same.
    – coteyr
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 2:36
  • It wasn't portrayed as a happy future. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 16:42

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