History of road fatalities 1869-1946

When did road fatalities begin and when will they end?

In 1869: Police investigated the world’s first road fatality in Ireland.
150 years of road fatalities 1
Mary Ward became Irelands and the world’s first road fatality when STRUCK by a steam powered car as it turned a sharp corner. At the inquest, the jury returned a verdict of an accidental death and no individual was to blame for Mary Ward’s death.

  • The fatality occurred at about 5 km/h or walking speed and there were no rules, driving licences or insurance policies required at the time.

1870 to 1895: There are no records or police reports available of road fatalities.
150 years of road fatalities 21896: Police investigated the first road fatality in the UK. Bridget Driscoll became the first UK fatality when STRUCK by a petrol-powered car when tillers were used to steer rather than steering wheels. The driver, said that he was doing 4mph (5 km/h) when he killed Mrs Driscoll and that he had rung his bell and shouted, ‘Stand Back’. He was driving only three weeks at the time, with no licence requirement, instruction or which side of the road to keep to and speedometers were not yet invented.

  • The driver knew what Bridget Driscoll should do and warned her by shouting and ringing the bell but, due to his lack of training and experience he failed to brake as he accelerated, now Called Distraction.

1897 to 1898: There are no records or reports available of road fatalities.
150 years of road fatalities 31899:Police investigated the first road fatality in the US.

Henry Bliss became the first US road fatality when struck by an electric powered taxi car and there were a further 25 fatalities recorded before the year end. 

Summary
Police and garage salespeople acting as driving instructors worldwide failed to realise that the automatic walking step movement of the left hand with the right foot and the right hand with left foot is suited to walking, running, cycling and other sports but not driving as it causes some drivers to accelerate in error while failing to steer or brake, as road fatalities continued.

In 2007, neuroscientists Paul E. Dux and René Marois discovered that a ‘Brain bottleneck’ causes a response to the second task to be postponed until the response to the first was completed, while in 2012, Sarah-Jane Blakemore discovered the Mysterious Workings of the Adolescence Brain

Between 1900 and 1920: There were few records of road fatalities maintained apart from by the US.
150 years of road fatalities 4First driving licences were issued in Great Britain in 1903. The Model T Ford 1908 - 1927 was fitted with a starting handle, bicycle type cable brakes, tyres which were hard and failed to grip the roads and solid springs.   Many roads were not yet tarred.  Cable brakes were still in use in some cars in the 1970s in Ireland.  The Model T Ford cost approximately €725. Road fatalities continued;

In 1921, most police did not own cars and were non-drivers. Road fatalities were recorded in Ireland from 1922 although Gardai only show road fatalities from 1961 on their web site and the RSA from 1959.  Australia began records in 1925 and Great Britain in 1926, with fatalities increasing each year;

The Dail Éireann Debate on road fatalities in Ireland 1927

On  08 02 1927 Sean O’Laidhin asked the Minister for Justice Kevin Christopher O’Higgins: “If he can state (a) the number of fatal accidents caused by motor cars and horse-drawn vehicles in Ireland for the years 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925 and 1926; and (b) the number of persons, male and female, injured by such vehicles during those years”.  The Minister responded:

1922:  Gardai investigated 51 road fatalities and 583 injuries. (11 to 1)

1923:  Gardai investigated 75 road fatalities and 701 injuries. (9 to 1)

1924:  Gardai investigated 64 road fatalities and 725 injuries. (11 to 1)

1925:  Gardai investigated 96 road fatalities and 973 injuries. (10 to 1)

1926:  Gardai investigated 130 road fatalities and 1,148 injuries. (9 to 1)

Kevin Christopher O’Higgins Minister for Justice Responded: A short Bill directed against fatal crashes will be introduced.

1927:  Gardai investigated approximately 130 road fatalities and 1,148 injuries.

Assistant Garda Commissioner William Murphy Response 06 07 1927

There were 20 fatal and 811 non-fatal crashes in the Dublin Metropolitan area in the previous 9 months due mainly to the carelessness of pedestrians and cyclists according to the Assistant Garda Commissioner William Murphy.  The first traffic lights were installed, with amber light time set at 3 seconds in 80 km/h speed limit areas.  Stopping normally from 80 km/h is in 8 seconds 89 metres or in emergency 4 seconds 44 metres

Commissioner Murphy may have been a non-driver and was mistaken in blaming pedestrians and cyclists for road fatalities and misled Justice Minister Kevin Christopher O’Higgins.

1928: Ireland recorded approximately 130 road fatalities and 1,148 injuries. (9 to 1). It appears unlikely that these statistics are accurate with only 9 injuries for each fatality Police were 59 years investigating road fatalities and dual controls were 29 years in use.Ireland had a fatality for each 300 and an injury for each 12 registered cars.

The answer to the information asked for in this question is as follows:

  1. (a) No. of persons killed by motor cars, 66

(b) No. of drivers of motor cars returned for trial, 7.

(C) No. of such drivers convicted of manslaughter, none

Three drivers are awaiting trial

  1. (a) No. of drivers of motor omnibuses returned for trial, 1.

(b) No. of such drivers convicted of manslaughter, none.

In practically all cases of fatal road accidents the Garda Siochana instituted criminal proceedings against the drivers concerned, but information’s were refused by the District Justices except in those cases shown above.

  • James X Murphy and Minister for Justice James Fitzgerald-Kenney were misled by Gardai.
  • 90 years later a Garda driver received a 9-month prison sentence for careless driving causing death.

1929: 106 road users died in Ireland and 6,696 in Great Britain, with injuries not recorded.

The Dail Éireann Debate on road fatalities in Ireland31 10 1929

James X Murphy TD asked the Minister for Justice James Fitzgerald-Kenney: “whether he will state (a) the number of fatal accidents caused by motor cars and motor buses in the Free State during the period of twelve months ending 1st September, 1929; and (b) the number of cases in which the drivers of the vehicles causing such accidents were returned for trial, and the number of convictions for manslaughter.

1930: Road fatalities in Ireland are not available but at 7,305 fatalities in Great Britain increased by 609.

1931: 184 road users died in Ireland, a road death for each 350 cars and 6,691 fatalities in Great Britain,

There were 2.3 million motor vehicles in Great Britain in 1931 when the Highway Code, priced at 1 penny went on sale in most book shops.   The Code was Issued by the Minister of Transport with the authority of Parliament in pursuance of Section 45 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, has never left the bestseller lists and claims it is one of the few books in print that can lay claim to saving thousands of lives.

  • Claims that the Highway Code saves thousands of lives were unfounded as 9,169 died in 1941.

1932:     202 road users died in Ireland and 6,657 in Great Britain.

1933:     185 road users died in Ireland and 7,202 in Great Britain.

1934: 199 road users died in Ireland and 7,343 in Great Britain.

1935: 222 road users died in Ireland and 6,502 in Great Britain.

1936: 201 road users died in Ireland and 6,561 in Great Britain.

1937: 214 road users died in Ireland and 6,633 in Great Britain.

1938: 227 road users died in Ireland and 6,648 in Great Britain.

1939: 192 road users died in Ireland and 8,272 in Great Britain.

1940: 204 road users died in Ireland and 8,609 in Great Britain.

1941: 156 road users died in Ireland and 9,169 in Great Britain.

1942: 176 road users died in Ireland and 6,926 in Great Britain.

1943:  110 road users died in Ireland and 5,796 in Great Britain.

1944: 130 road users died in Ireland and 6,416 in Great Britain.

1945: 115 road users died in Ireland and 5,256 in Great Britain.

1946: 166 users died in Ireland and 5,062 in Great Britain. 

On 31 07 1946, the Revised Version of the Highway Code, with the world’s first stopping distances designed by the Transport Research Laboratory TRL and prepared by the Minister of Transport was issued with the Authority of Parliament. It was claimed during the 15 hours of debate that the Code contained grammar that gave some rules the opposite meaning to what was intended.

  • On 31 07 1946 TRL misled the British Government and Highway Code on stopping distances, and
  • On 05 11 2018 or 72 years later TRL continued to mislead MPs in Parliament as fatalities continued, as;

The TRL designed Highway Code stopping distance formula is incorrect as;

  1. Driver Thinking/Time Distance of 0.67 seconds 15m is allowed before braking at 50 mph (80 km/h)
  2. Braking distance of 38m at 80 km/h is 51m short of normal braking standard and 4m short of emergency standard and for one-way roads only.

The formula has remained unchanged since 1946, apart from removing the 10-mph stopping distance, adding stopping distance for 60 mph (96 km/h) and 70 mph (112 km/h), while including km/h and metres as follows


The Incorrect TRL Highway Code 2The Incorrect TRL Highway Code 1

 

 

 

 






Note

TRL, with more than 1,000 clients across 145 countries was privatised in 1996, is owned by the Transport Research Foundation TRF and confirmed in writing they are unable to locate the stopping formula.  On the 31 07 1946, after a Debate lasting 15 hours the Highway Code was issued with the Authority of Parliament.  The Code could have been withdrawn, amended and resubmitted but this did not happen.  TRL is now unable to locate the stopping formula or explain the reason they provide their clients including the Highway Code, Police, Road Safety Authority, DVSA and Charity Brake with formulas that differ from 120 km/h by 57 metres.

  • Braking cannot be achieved as outlined by TRL and the British Government since 1946.
  • TRL continues to mislead their 1,000 clients in 145 countries worldwide on stopping distances.