On this day in auto history - August 17th

Tue 17th Aug 2021

It was on this day in 1896 that an innocuous South London housewife, Bridgett Driscoll, became the first pedestrian in the UK to be killed by a car.

The 44-year-old was reportedly making her way to a folk dancing display in the grounds of Crystal Palace with her daughter and friend when hit by an exhibition vehicle driven by 20-year-old Arthur James Edsall at a speed of approximately 4-mph.

It is almost certain that the unlucky Mrs Driscoll had never even seen a car prior to her fatal accident as there were fewer than 20 petrol cars recorded in Britain at the time. At the subsequent inquest, one witness said she had hesitated and seemed “bewildered” before being hit.

The inquest also revealed that Edsall had been driving for just three weeks - with no licence requirement - and had been given no instructions as to which side of the road to keep to.

After returning a verdict of “accidental death”, the coroner, Percy Morrison, said he hoped “such a thing would never happen again”. Little did he know that over 560,000 and counting would be killed on Britain’s roads since then.