14 Apr: Introducing The Highway Code

Britain had no driving test, no enforced rules on drink-driving, and a network of roads reliant on hand signals on 14th April, 1931 – the publication day of surprise national bestseller The Highway Code.

Codifying driving etiquette – rather than reducing fatalities – was as much a preoccupation of the book as safe driving per se. “Good manners, and consideration for others, are as desirable and are as much appreciated on the road as elsewhere”, the Introduction said. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly revisit the work of Leslie Hore-Belisha and his ‘Belisha Beacons’; ask whether a little more consideration for cyclists could have avoided decades of irate cabbies calling phone-in radio; and test their own knowledge of the current Highway Code (clue: Rebecca still hasn’t passed her driving test…) 

Further Reading:

• ‘The Untold Story of the Highway Code’ (The Historic England Blog, 2021): https://heritagecalling.com/2021/02/12/the-untold-story-of-the-highway-code/

• ‘14 April 1931: the first edition of the Highway Code is published’ (MoneyWeek, 2020): https://moneyweek.com/387612/14-april-1931-the-first-edition-of-the-highway-code-is-published

• ‘Read And Act On The Highway Code’ (British Pathé, 1946):