The period between the two World Wars, 1919 to 1939, saw a major expansion in the use of motor vehicles on the roads of Britain and a consequent increase in road accidents and fatalities. Studies of road transport in this period have concentrated largely on the expanding urban areas. Little detailed work has been completed in rural areas. This study goes some way to fill this gap in our knowledge. It will examine the rural county of Herefordshire where the use of motor vehicles did increase greatly, although not to the extent of the country as a whole. This thesis will address the management of the safety of road traffic which was exercised by the County Council in the inter war years. The heart of the study is the evaluation of the size of the problem and the efforts of the County Surveyor to improve the safety of the county road network. Increasing use of the road network was encouraged by the decline in use of the rail network. The A40 trunk road in the south of the county saw traffic increases of approximately one and a half times over the two decades. However the secondary roads such as the B4214 north of Bromyard saw much greater increase. Cars increased by six and three quarter times whilst lorries by the even larger margin of nine times over the two decades. The improvements carried out to the county road network consisted of road widening, rather than major road realignments. The County Council members were strongly resistant to the loss of agricultural land. However significant new improvements to the road surface were effected throughout the county albeit in short lengths. Four different types of road surface were tried. In fact the county was at the forefront of road surface development in this period. The County Surveyor’s preferred choice was a bitumen/stone mix laid cold which became the accepted solution for the country as a whole in the 1930s. The attitude adopted by the police force, essentially reactive, in the management of road safety will be examined. Whilst traffic volumes increased in the inter-war years there was no corresponding increase in the 1930s in the recorded number of fatal road accidents. The thesis will conclude with an assessment of the degree of public satisfaction with the efforts of the County Surveyor and the Chief Constable in maintaining a safe county road network in the inter-war years. The public, through the medium of the press and the County Council minutes, indicated that they considered that the efforts of the Surveyor and Chief Constable were acceptable
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