The long his­to­ry of ro­ad law: part 3

George Herald - Auto Dealer - - Nuus -

The thi­rd part in our se­ries of how ro­ad and traf­fic laws de­ve­lo­ped is ba­sed on Wil­li­am Plo­w­den’s The Mo­tor Car and Po­li­ti­cs in B­ri­tain (1973) and the AA UK’s his­to­ry Gol­den Mi­les­to­ne (1965) as sum­ma­ri­sed.


The com­mit­tee de­ci­ded on the si­ze, co­lour and ty­pe of signs, and laid do­wn fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples for a sig­ning sy­stem, viz: signs should be e­a­si­ly seen and un­der­stood, gi­ve e­nough ad­van­ce war­ning, ha­ve a u­ni­form de­sign, and they must not be o­ver­u­sed. It a­dop­ted cer­tain signs agreed on at a 1926 Pa­ris con­ven­ti­on but did not en­dor­se the 1931 Ge­ne­va Con­ven­ti­on, which had op­ted for sym­bol-on­ly signs and which had sett­led on the shape of e­ach ty­pe of sign (alt­hough B­ri­tish signs we­re not too dis­si­mi­lar). The com­mit­tee al­so did ba­sic ground­work on traf­fic sig­nal­ling and in­tro­du­ced fil­ter lig­hts.


Alt­hough the RRL was set up at this ti­me, it was not until 1946 w­hen the Traf­fic and Sa­fe­ty Di­vi­si­on was for­med that ro­ad sa­fe­ty re­se­arch got un­der way. Sin­ce then the di­vi­si­on has es­ta­blis­hed a wor­ld-wi­de re­pu­ta­ti­on for its sa­fe­ty re­se­arch. With the re­ducti­on in staff num­bers in re­cent y­e­ars, mo­re work is now pla­ced with u­ni­ver­si­ties and re­se­arch bo­dies. It has had, and con­ti­nues to ha­ve, a far-re­a­ching in­flu­en­ce on ro­ad sa­fe­ty po­li­cy and practi­ce.



This broug­ht a 30mph li­mit in built-up a­re­as, dri­ving tes­ts, pe­de­stri­an cros­sings and re­flec­tors for bi­cy­cles. Pen­al­ties for dan­ge­rous dri­ving we­re in­cre­a­sed.


Alt­hough the RAC had been o­pe­ra­ting a sy­stem of in­structi­on and tes­ting of d­ri­vers sin­ce 1902, the­re was no of­fi­ci­al test of com­pe­ten­ce to d­ri­ve. On and off, o­ver the y­e­ars, this had been the sub­ject of much de­bate but its ad­vo­ca­tes fi­nal­ly won their ca­se in 1934. The test co­ve­r­ed ba­sic car con­t­rol and ma­noeu­vres and kno­w­led­ge of the Highway Co­de, and the MoT set up its own bo­dy of ex­a­mi­ners.

At the sa­me ti­me, the RAC set up a sche­me for the ex­a­mi­na­ti­on and re­gis­tra­ti­on of dri­ving in­struc­tors. Alt­hough in a sen­se the test (and the trai­ning) ha­ve been kept up to da­te by ha­ving to re­spond to chan­ges in the ro­ad sy­stem and in dri­ving con­di­ti­ons, the­re are o­mis­si­ons li­ke mo­tor­way and nig­ht dri­ving. T­he­se and ot­her ar­gu­ments ha­ve for­med the ba­sis for the ma­ny calls o­ver the y­e­ars for the test to be up­da­ted, alt­hough such chan­ges we­re re­sis­ted by the Dri­ving S­tan­dards A­gen­cy. Ho­we­ver, chan­ges ha­ve now co­me a­bout as a re­sult of an EC di­recti­ve.


This was the fo­re­run­ner of the “ze­bra” pe­de­stri­an cros­sing and was na­med af­ter Ho­re Belisha, the then mi­nis­ter of trans­port. They con­sis­ted of un­lit o­ran­ge glo­bes moun­ted on po­les.



This was for­med by Lord T­ren­chard, com­mis­si­o­ner of the Me­tro­po­li­tan Po­li­ce, in an at­tempt to re­du­ce po­li­ce ac­ci­dents. Cap­tain Min­chon of the Roy­al Ar­mou­red Corps S­chool was broug­ht in as trans­port of­fi­cer, and staff de­ve­lo­ped ad­van­ced trai­ning cour­ses for po­li­ce d­ri­vers. Lord Cot­ten­ham was ap­poin­ted an ad­vi­ser of the s­chool and a­men­ded the syl­la­bus, which he found unsa­tis­fac­to­ry. This was re­sis­ted, of cour­se, and he had so­me s­harp words to say a­bout the obtru­si­ve­ness of staff, but the ac­ci­dent ra­te did im­pro­ve.

Si­mi­lar schools we­re for­med in Li­ver­pool, P­re­ston, Man­ches­ter, Sal­ford, C­hes­ter and C­helms­ford. The “ro­ad craft” sy­stem and po­li­ce in­vol­vement in ad­van­ced dri­ving stem from the work at Hendon. A ro­ad craft ma­nu­al was first pu­blis­hed in the mid ‘50s, alt­hough the­re was an e­ar­lier ver­si­on cal­led At­ten­ti­on All D­ri­vers, pu­blis­hed in 1954. The aut­hor was Jock Tay­lor, se­ni­or in­struc­tor at Hendon. The pu­bli­ca­ti­on still ex­is­ts and is up­da­ted e­very three to fi­ve y­e­ars. The most re­cent e­di­ti­on da­tes from 2013.


With the in­tro­ducti­on of the dri­ving test, the RAC set up a sche­me for the ex­a­mi­na­ti­on and re­gis­tra­ti­on of dri­ving in­struc­tors, which play­ed a u­se­ful ro­le until the in­tro­ducti­on of the ADI re­gis­ter in 1964.­vern­ment/pu­bli­ca­ti­ons

P­ho­to: Lan­cashi­re Con­sta­bu­la­ry Mu­seum

Part of the first ad­van­ce dri­ving cour­se at Hut­ton Hall in 1937. This was one of two ot­her dri­ving schools a­part from Hendon.

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