The Red Flag ActJun 28 2022
The existence of laws to control traffic long pre-dates the invention of the motor car. It is thought that the Romans first introduced one way streets, pedestrian crossings and roundabouts some 2000 years ago.
1801 – Richard Trevithick now attempted to produce a much larger steam road locomotive and on Christmas Eve, 1801, it used it to take seven friends on a short journey. The locomotive’s principle features were a cylindrical horizontal boiler and a single horizontal cylinder let into it. The piston, propelled back and forth in the cylinder by pressure of steam, was linked by piston rod and connecting rod to a crankshaft bearing a large flywheel. Trevithick’s locomotive became known as the Puffing Devil but it could only go on short journeys as he was unable to find a way of keeping up the steam for any length of time.
- 1835 – Highways Act prohibits riding on footpaths, introduces dangerous driving.
- 1865 – Locomotive Act (amended 1878) – restricted the speed of horse-less vehicles to 4mph in open country and 2 mph in towns. Act required three drivers for each vehicle – 2 to travel in the vehicle and one to walk ahead carrying a red flag… – the Red Flag Act.
- 1872 – Licensing Act – introduces offence of drinking whilst in charge of carriage, horse or cattle
- 1875 – 1589 people killed in road accidents
- 1896 – Repeal of 1865 ‘Red Flag Act’ after nearly two decades of strong support from horse interests. Horse-less vehicles now free to travel faster than walking pace! Royal Automobile Club founded. First RAC London to Brighton run held to celebrate the new era of speed.
- 1905 – Automobile Association founded – fights to support members caught by police speed traps.
- 1930 – Road Traffic Act – introduced minimum age for driving and requirement of all vehicles to be insured. Required the Ministry of Transport to prepare guidance for road users – the first Highway Code.
- 1934 – Road Traffic Act – introduced 30mph speed limit in built up areas, pedestrian crossings (marked by the ‘Belisha’ beacon), required cycles to carry rear reflectors. First driving tests introduced.