The Times and Road Casualties. A century later and still no fully competent investigations.

CIRCA 1990.  Overturned car in a quiet country lane nr Llandyrnog, Vale of Clwyd , No other vehicle involved… nor lessons learnt?

Extract from The Times newspaper:- June 28, 1921

Few days without serious road accidents

Few days and no holidays seem to pass without serious accidents to road traffic. Those due to the callousness or the incompetence of drivers of fast cars can be dealt with by the ordinary process of law. The very proper sentence of imprisonment passed on a private motorist last week — despite the irrelevant plea of his advocate that financial compensation had been paid for the killed and wounded children — should prove a salutary warning. But the cause of many is indeterminate.

Last September we called attention to the dangers arising from the great increase of heavy motor traffic for goods and passengers on English roads. We urged the need of such a technical inquiry into the causes of road aocidents as the Regulation of Railways Act (1871) prescribed for accidents to trains. No steps appear to have been taken in that direction by the Ministry of Transport, or by the Board of Trade. Meanwhile the roads have become even more overloaded with lorries and motor coaches, and accidents multiply.

Each Case Requires a Full Technical Investigation. 

Each case requires full technical investigation, not merely into the civil or criminal responsibility of the drivers. The rate of speed, even if well within the legal limit, the quality and camber of the roads, the construction, dimensions, and loading of the vehicles, are all possible contributory causes which only technical investigation can disentangle. Railways and trains came as a surprising novelty. They excited alarm in a generation unaccustomed to locomotive machinery, and were hedged about with legal precautions from the beginning.

Motor road traffic has grown more slowly, and has had a more indulgent reception. Its flexibility has disadvantages. Railway trains, confined to a track, keep their own side of the road, and the block system keeps a space between one train and its follower. Road vehicles can race and, in the attempt to pass, can block the fairway or get on the wrong camber. The tests to which they are submitted do not guarantee correct behaviour under the many conditions into which their flexibility may lead them. Most of the causes of accident could be removed were they known, but for them to be known, provision must be made for competent investigation. (end of article)

Editorial Comment:-

Non motorised users including cyclists, pedestrians and those to whom the protection of the Equality legislation applies, are particularly in need of a system that identifies factors bearing on safety.

The reader’s attention is drawn to Cycling UK’s response to the Department for Transport’s Cycling and Walking Investment  Strategy safety review of 2018, with particular reference to para 5.3 et al (p143-5) 


Relevant Article:-  (Environmental Transport Association (ETA))  The Back to Front World of British Road Traffic Law (note linked video ‘Stop Killing Our Children’)