History of the Highway Code
Driving licences were first introduced in the UK in 1903, as part of the Motor Car Act– its core purpose to be able to identify cars and their drivers. The cost at the time was 20 shillings and this enabled the car to be registered and legal for use on the road. The cost of the licence was 5 shillings.
In 1921 there were approximately one million drivers in the UK, and by 1939 this figure rose to 3 million. The 1960s saw the biggest hike in car ownership as they became more affordable to the public. The 1970s saw the introduction of a new centralized computer licencing system to support the UKs 20 million cars.
The first publication of the Highway Code was introduced in 1931-its core aim to help save 1000s of lives. At the time, 7000 deaths occurred on the road out of a network of 2.3 million car users. Nowadays, the 27 million car users have a much lower death rate compared to the early motoring days when the Highway Code was first introduced. This achievement of road traffic fatalities can be thanks to greater public awareness and huge advances in technology.
The Highway Code has changed drastically over the years-to accommodate the ever changing and increasing new drivers and technologies in motoring within the UK. Early additions of the Highway Code had no mention of mirrors and the horns usage was mentioned for over-taking purposes. Nowadays, the horn isn’t used often, and certainly isn’t for overtaking.
Nowadays, advice on how to cross the road fills a whole chapter, but back-in-the-day, it only ever mentioned it in one paragraph!
Here are a few facts about the Highway Code:
• The first edition cost 1 penny.
• The first edition was the only one to have advertising in it. This included; AA, The Autocar Magazine, Castor Motor Oil and BP.
• The first edition had only 18 pages of advice compared to the 135 pages of the newer edition.
• Driving signs only appeared in the 2nd edition and stopping distances were introduced in the 3rd edition.
• The 1954 Highway Code had colour illustrations for the first time, and gracing the back cover was guidelines on first aid.
• Motorways were first introduced in the 5th edition when they were built in the 1950s.
• The 1968 edition (6th) saw the introduction of the Green Cross Code for pedestrians and orange badges were introduced for people with a disability.
• Vehicle safety advice notes were introduced with the increase of car crime
• The Theory Test was introduced in the 1990s edition, with a section geared towards the new driver test.
• 2011 The Highway Code joined Facebook and Twitter
• In May 2012-the official Highway Code App was introduced.