The battle for the roads of Britain: Police, motorists and the law, c.1890s to 1970s

Keith Laybourn, David Taylor

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The onset of the automobile, both cars and other vehicles, on British roads brought about a seismic change in the social, economic and political history of Britain. Cars fundamentally challenged the established democracy of the road by forcing the authorities to channel the pedestrian, and children, out of the way of the unforgiving automobile and educating them in exercising road safety. They also forced the police to implement the three Es of 'Enforcement, Engineering and Education' - enforcing the law of the road, pressing for new technology for signals and other technologies, and educating school children - in an impartial attempt to ensure that life was protected. In this process, the police should not be seen as the tools of the motorists, middle class or working class, but as the impartial enforcers of legislation, introducing as such the 'policeman-state'. Consequently, policing fundamentally changed in Britain between 1900 and 1970, as the police moved from their 'feet to their seats' in controlling traffic as British policing became more integrated and introduced new technology and modern systems.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Number of pages238
ISBN (Electronic)9781137317858
ISBN (Print)9780230359321
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

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