Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Saturday, February 27, 1999 Published at 14:03 GMT


UK

Fake funeral marks road death centenary

Campaigners point out that fatalities are on the increase

Environmental campaigners have commemorated the first death of a motorist on Britain's roads 100 years ago.

Dozens of protesters formed a procession behind a dummy hearse and coffin to the scene of the accident in Harrow, north-west London.


[ image: The day of action also focussed on pollution]
The day of action also focussed on pollution
Some carried banners saying "Are you a slave to your car?" and "Car-sharing is caring".

Britain's first ever fatal car crash happened on 25 February, 1899 when Edwin Sewell, an employee of the fledging Daimler company, and his passenger died after he lost control of the motorised "wagonette" vehicle. He was showing prospective buyers the wonders of the new car.

He and front-seat passenger Major James Miller died from head injuries after the car's wheels collapsed when the brakes were used while speeding down a steep incline.

The vehicle was travelling at 20mph, considerably more than the recommended maximum speed.

A pedestrian, Rose Driscoll, had been killed after being struck by a motor vehicle in 1896, but these deaths were the first of people travelling in a car.

Minute's silence

About 30 protesters, including organisers Friends of the Earth and RoadPeace, held a minute's silence and called for greater efforts to cut the death toll on Britain's roads.

"Car fatalities are still very high and road accidents are on the increase," said Michael Cohen, of Harrow Friends of the Earth.

"We need to look at the whole issue of car culture and car dependency because if people do not look at alternative modes of transport, things are going to get worse."

He added: "This day combines a sombre remembrance of a centenary of needless deaths on the roads with a day of action focusing people's attention on car dependency and car pollution."

Roads 'getting worse'

Mrs Brigitte Chaudhry, founder of RoadPeace, who was among the campaigners who joined a two-mile walk in the area, said: "The situation over the past 100 years has got progressively worse and around half a million people have been killed on Britain's roads and 30 million injured."

She said the government were not doing enough to cut road deaths.

"We believe there should be a law making death the central issue," she said. "At the moment, everyone who kills on the roads through negligence is charged with a summary offence which totally disregards the fact of death."

RoadPeace campaigners plan a protest opposite the Houses of Parliament later in the day as part of a monthly "Stand and be Counted" gathering to raise awareness of the death and injury toll in Britain.

The group has demonstrated at the same spot every last Saturday of the month since August last year to highlight their campaign.





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

15 Nov 98 | UK
Road victims remembered

23 Oct 98 | UK
Go slow - whether you like it or not





Internet Links


Friends of the Earth

Department of Transport - Roads


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online