History of Highways' legislation

  • First Powered road vehicle

    First Powered road vehicle
    Nicholas Cugnot (1725 – 1804) designs a steam truck to transport cannon for the French Army. Built and tested at Paris Arsenal. It is capable of 2.5mph/4.02kph.
  • First Road Traffic Collision

    First Road Traffic Collision
    Nicholas Cugnot builds his second steam vehicle. Built and tested at Paris Arsenal, it carries 4 tons. Apparently it crashes into a stone wall, so can be considered the world’s first motor accident!
  • Highways Act

    Highways Act
    The Highway Act 1835 placed highways under the direction of parish surveyors, and allowed them to pay for the costs involved by rates levied on the occupiers of land. The surveyor's duty is to keep the highways in repair, and if a highway is out of repair, the surveyor may be summoned before the courts and ordered to complete the repairs within a limited time. The surveyor is also charged with the removal of nuisances on the highway. A highway nuisance may be abated by any person, and may be mad
  • Red Flag Act

    The Locomotives on Highways Act (usually referred to as the ‘Red Flag Act’) comes into effect. Intended to impose regulations upon heavy steam traction engines. It stipulates that every road locomotive must be attended by three people; one to steer, one to stoke the firebox and one to walk 60 yards (55 metres) in front with a red flag to warn other road users. Maximum permitted speed is 4mph/6.4kph in the country and 2mph/3.22kph in towns.
  • First UK traffic lights

    First UK traffic lights
    The first traffic signals in Britain (and indeed the world) were installed outside the Houses of Parliament on 10 December 1868. They used contemporary railway signalling technology – semaphore arms for day-time use and green or red gas lamps at night. Unfortunately they exploded on the night of 2 January 1869 injuring the police constable operating them! The first electric stop-go traffic lights were installed in Cleveland, Ohio in August 1914, with the first three-colour traffic lights in Detr
  • First Petrol driven motor vehicle

    First Petrol driven motor vehicle
    Edouard Delamare-Deboutville builds the first petrol-driven road vehicle. The engine, a stationary gas engine modified to run on petrol, proves to be too powerful for the vehicle which soon collapses.
  • Patent of first Motor Vehicle

    Patent of first Motor Vehicle
    The motor car was developed over many years by a number of talented individuals but Karl Benz of Mannheim in Germany is normally credited as the Inventor of the Motor Car. In the autumn of 1885, his three-wheeled vehicle became the first successful petrol-engined car. He was awarded a patent for it on 29 January 1886, and became the first motor manufacturer in 1888 with his Modell 3 Benz. In 1886, Gottlieb Daimler and his protégé Wilhelm Maybach built the first successful four-wheeled petrol-dri
  • 2hp Benz Velo imported by Henry Hewitson

    2hp Benz Velo imported by Henry Hewitson
  • First UK Driving Lessons

    First UK Driving Lessons
    The Motor Carriage Supply Company of London, their instructor being one Mr Hankinson, offered the first driving lessons in Britain in June 1900. The first organisation to title itself a driving school in Britain was the Liver Motor Car Depot and School of Automobilism of Birkenhead. William Lee established the school in May 1901 and its Chief Instructor was Archibald Ford.
  • First Driving Licence

    First Driving Licence
    France introduced the first driving licences under the Paris Police Ordinance of 14 August 1893. The Motor Car Act of 14 August 1903, which took effect on 1 January 1904, introduced the driving licence (along with registration numbers for vehicles and a new speed limit of 20mph/32.19kph) into Great Britain.
  • First Mass Produced Caravan

    First Mass Produced Caravan
    The first mass-produced caravan which could be towed behind a motor car is produced by the Eccles Company of Birmingham, England.
  • 1 Million Cars

    1 Million Cars
    Ford is the first company to build one million cars in a year. The total number of Ford Model Ts of all body styles built in US factories in 1922 is 1.3 million. Peak production comes in 1923 when over 1.8 million are produced.
  • Introduction of Highway Code

    Introduction of Highway Code
    First published in booklet form in Great Britain in April 1931, it cost one penny.
  • 1934 Road Traffic Act

    1934 Road Traffic Act
    he 1934 Road Traffic Act introduces the 30mph/48.28kph speed limit to built-up areas. It also introduces driving tests to Britain.
  • UK Compulsary Driving Test

    UK Compulsary Driving Test
    Introduced on a voluntary basis, on 13 March 1935, the driving test did not become official in Great Britain until 1 April 1935 and compulsory until 1 June 1935. The first driving test pass certificate in Great Britain was awarded on the 16 March 1935 to Mr R.E.L. Beene of Kensington.
  • 3 million cars on UK roads

    By 1939 this figure had risen to 3 million
  • First UK Motorway

    First UK Motorway
    The first motorway to be opened in the UK was the 8¼ mile long M6 Preston By-pass. It was opened on the 5th December 1958 by the then Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan. A granite plinth marking the occasion was erected at the Samlesbury interchange.
  • Introduction of UK MOT

    Introduction of UK MOT
    MOT test introduced for vehicles over 10 years old covering brakes, lights and steering
  • 20 Million vehicles in UK

    20 Million vehicles in UK
    In 1973 the number of drivers had risen to about 20 million and a centralised computer-based licensing system was brought in to cope with the huge increase in demand for both driver and vehicle licences.