The history of road safety

Bridget Driscoll received instant notoriety when she stepped off the kerb and into the history books on August 17th 1896. Mrs Driscoll, a 44 year old housewife, who was travelling from Old Town, Croydon to a folk-dancing display in Crystal Palace, became the first pedestrian in the UK to be killed by a car.

Mrs Driscoll, a resident of Croydon, was hit by a demonstration car travelling at 4mph. She died within minutes of receiving a head injury.

An early police vehicle similar to the one shown may have attended Bridget Driscoll's accident.

At Mrs Driscoll’s inquest, Coroner William Percy Morrison said he hoped that ‘such a thing would never happen again’ and was the first to apply the term ‘accident’ to violence caused by speed. Coroners across the country have followed his example ever since.

Witnesses said that the car, driven by Arthur Edsel, was travelling at a reckless pace, in fact, like a fire engine. Mr Edsel claimed that he had only been doing 4 mph and that he had rung his bell as a warning. The jury took six hours to reach a verdict that Mrs. Driscoll had died of accidental death.

Road Safety Milestone

Three years later, on 25 February 1899, a 31-year-old engineer named Sewell was demonstrating a wagonette motor car to some friends.

As he was driving down Grove Hill, Harrow, Middx, at 14 mph, a wheel shed its rim. Sewell and his front seat passenger, a Major Richer, were thrown from the car. Sewell was killed instantly and Major Richer died three days later in hospital.

Lancashire Police vehicles on the M6 Preston By pass in the 60s - you certainly wouldn't stop on the hard shoulder these days, would you?

Since the invention of the motor vehicle over a century ago, it is estimated that about 30 million people have been killed in road crashes. A recent review of road deaths world-wide estimated that between 750,000 and 880,000 lives were lost in road crashes in 1999, a conservative estimate compared with earlier World Health Organisation figures. Source: Global Road Safety Partnership

History of the School Crossing Patrol Service

Britain’s first Patrol, a Mrs Hunt, was appointed by Bath City Council in 1937 to work outside Kingsmead school.

Despite the bombing raids, Mrs Hunt continued to work throughout the Second World War, moving to a new site with the children when the building was destroyed in a bombing raid in 1942.

Experimental Patrols appeared in London in the 1940s and Traffic Wardens were used to assemble children in Dagenham in 1949. The idea proved very popular and other boroughs in London began to follow suit, leading to the Metropolitan Police deciding that this was something it should adopt and take over.

Patrols were formally recognised in Britain by the School Crossing Patrols Act in 1953 and allowed to operate across the country.

Responsibility for the service in England and Wales now lies largely with the local authorities. In 2001 their powers were extended to allow adults, in addition to children, to be crossed by Patrols.

Currently in excess of 30,000 Patrols are operating throughout the UK, with approximately 1200 officers being deployed in Wales.

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