By David Taylor, Keith Laybourn
Policing in Britain was once replaced essentially via the swift emergence of the car at first of the 20 th century. This booklet seeks to check how the police reacted to this problem and moved to segregate the motorist from the pedestrian in an try and cast off the 'road holocaust' that ensued.
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Additional info for The Battle for the Roads of Britain: Police, Motorists and the Law, c.1890s to 1970s
S. 7 O’Connell, particularly, suggests that the domination of the motorist was based upon their initially middle-class nature: magistrates, many of whom were also middle-class drivers, made it difﬁcult for the police to effectively enforce speeding limits in an atmosphere in which even police chief constables began to support the decriminalising of speeding. 9 According to these writers, the car brought about social and cultural changes and gave its driver an emotionally charged experience – the thrill of the open road.
Enforcement of the law became the ﬁrst real responsibility of the police and this was most obvious in the early efforts of the police to enforce speed limits upon motorists. To tackle speed the police organised, as we have seen, their highly contentious speed traps, as well as their checks on the technical faults of cars. Yet these motoring organisations and the police, whilst in conﬂict over the driving of motorists, often agreed from the beginning of the twentieth century, that whilst pedestrians and cyclists were the main victims of road accidents they often contributed signiﬁcantly to their own death and injury.
18 Moran has claimed much the same, as have M. M. Ishaque and R. B. Noland, and also B. Luckin and D. 20 Luckin and Sheen note that both Major C. V. 21 O’Connell and Moran have further emphasised the social and political inﬂuence of the motoring organisations in deﬂecting criticism from perpetrators to victims – careless pedestrians in particular – and helping to shape government trafﬁc policy in their favour. O’Connell, in particular, sees the police as part of the wider problem facing road-safety reformers, portraying the Chief Constable of Salford, Major Godfrey, who demanded coroners return suicide verdicts in some cases of road fatalities, as if he were in some way typical of all chief constables.