RoSPA in the Twenties
The yearly increase in the number of accidents is well illustrated here.
1920 The London "Safety First" Council introduced a 'Think Safety' campaign to deal with the one-and-a-half million new motorists who took to the road following the end of the War. HRH The Duke of York became president of the council. A compulsory code of road signals was introduced. The council called for left-hand drive vehicles to be banned from Britain's roads. Nottingham set up a local "Safety First" organisation. Pressure began to build for a national "Safety First" movement. The first British "Safety First" convention was held by BISFA. Delectaland of Watford held a safety week, the first time the idea had been tried in Britain.
1921 Entries for the school children's essay competition topped 100,000. Traffic increased greatly in the suburbs of London. Railway accidents claimed 991 lives. The London "Safety First" Council called on the police to collect accident data and publish their findings.
1922 BISFA planned a "safety first" campaign in the coal mines. Local area committees began to be established in the major cities. The London "Safety First" Council called for the marking of recognised road crossing places, the improvement of street lighting and the reduction of glare from motor headlights.
1923 The National "Safety First" Association was formed with both the London "Safety First" Council and BISFA affiliated to it. The organisations moved to shared offices preparatory to merging into the new association. The Duke of York became the patron of the London "Safety First" Council when his presidency ended. There was a welcome decrease in deaths on the railways.
1924 The National "Safety First" Association began operations. Two reports about dockyard safety called for the introduction of "Safety First" principles as essential to reducing accidents. A Safety Code for Road Users was published; half a million copies were distributed. The London "Safety First" Council continued its work in the capital while new branches of the association were set up all over England.
1925 The insurance industry refused to support the National "Safety First" Association. One company said it would not do so because "as the number of accidents is reduced, claim ratios become more favourable and premiums charged to the public have to be reduced." They could not finance an association "which by its activities enables the public to obtain these lower premiums." Thought was given to whether the phrase "safety first" should be changed to "accident prevention" as a better reflection of the work.
1926 The Duke of York became patron of the National "Safety First" Association and his first act was to appeal for more funds for the organisation. A small stand was taken at the Motor Show for the first time. More than two million safe driving leaflets were issued with driving licences.
The Road Fellowship League - Code of Conduct.
1927 A new pamphlet on the safe use of abrasive wheels was published. The Road Fellowship League was set up for all road users. Members had to sign a pledge to conform to the Code of the League. The first Road Fellowship films were made. The London "Safety First" Council decided to become an area council of the association.
1928 More than 250,000 schoolchildren wrote essays in safety first competitions. More than 10,000 children attended a series of film lectures about avoiding accidents. A deputation visited the Minister of Transport to demand action on six issues: accident causation analysis; provision of footpaths; priority at road intersections; mechanical efficiency of vehicles; knowledge of rules of the road; dazzle.
1929 Coroners co-operated in research into the primary causes of 2,194 road deaths in the last six months of the year. A third safety engineer was employed to assist industrial members in works accident prevention. The association gave evidence to the Royal Commission on Transport and was warmly commended for its work. The association applied to the Government for a grant to aid its work but was turned down.
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