Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Road Traffic Act of 1934, a ruling that made it compulsory for all new drivers to sit a test before they were allowed onto the open road.

The death toll on the roads that year was a staggering 7,343 so strict rules and regulations were brought in to put an end to such unnecessary fatalities.

Since the legislation, deaths and serious injuries on the roads have dramatically decreased. In fact, the fatality figure last year stood at 1,754, and although there is still some way to go before we see an end to deaths on our roads, the figure proves that legislation works.


The year speedometers and safety glass in windscreens were made compulsory.

But what legislation has been introduced in the 80-year period? Well, in 1937 speedometers and safety glass in windscreens were made compulsory and it wasn’t until 1983 that all drivers were required by law to wear a seatbelt.

Road deaths fluctuated between 1965 and 1985 but improvements in car safety and the introduction of legislation in 1990 that stated that anyone accompanying a learner driver must be 21 and have had a licence for at least three years saw the figures plummet.

A separate written theory test in 1996 and a hazard perception test in 2002 became mandatory, further reducing road deaths to the levels we see today.

Victoria Finn, head of communications and marketing at automotive retailer Evans Halshaw, said: "The 1934 Road Traffic Act clearly did a huge amount of good for the drivers and pedestrians of the UK, and it is right that we take a minute to assess the difference it has made to our lives on its 80th anniversary.

"However, there is always more we can do to make our roads even safer, and it would be great if the government used today to think about yet more safety measures that could be introduced to bring the road death toll down even further."

Leon Poultney


March 26, 2014