Risk on the Roads: Police, Motor Traffic and the Management of Space, c. 1900–50

Williams, Chris A. (2016). Risk on the Roads: Police, Motor Traffic and the Management of Space, c. 1900–50. In: Crook, Tom and Esbester, Mike eds. Governing Risks in Modern Britain: Danger, Safety and Accidents, c. 1800–2000. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 195–219.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-46745-4_9


Exploring the police’s role in managing road risks, Williams’ chapter focuses on two interrelated elements: engineering solutions to dangers, including the design of streets and roads, and the ways in which police officers extended their authority and claims to expertise in terms of determining policy and the management of traffic-related risks. Demonstrating how practices were shaped by the interests and priorities of professionals and experts, he argues that the police pushed debates in terms of infrastructure rather than a greater presence on the streets, yet still sought to retain power and responsibility for traffic risks rather than letting it shift to other agencies. Crucial to this was the police’s ability to deploy knowledge of accidents by their mastery of statistics, and by their durability and latency as an organization.

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