Top 10 landmarks in Britain’s highway history - 8848

Top 10 landmarks in Britain’s highway history

MAN Truck & Bus UK puts the spotlight on the past as part of the group’s 100-year anniversary.

MAN Truck & Bus UK has put the spotlight on the top 10 landmarks in the history of Britain’s highways as part of the 100-year anniversary celebrations of the company.

And the progress seen over the years is almost as dramatic as the difference in MAN trucks between 1915, when the group started commercial vehicle production, and now. The group itself spans more than 250 years of heritage.

Martin Pickering, Marketing Communications Manager, said: “The centenary is a real landmark for the MAN family, and we thought it would be fun to take a look at what else has happened over the past 100 years.

“British roadways and driving itself has certainly come a long way.

We hope the Top 10 list will raise a few smiles.”

Here’s the Top 10 events in highway history:

  • Driver registration was introduced in 1903 with the Motor Car Act.Holders of the sulphur-yellow coloured document were entitled to ‘drive a motor car or motor cycle’.
  • In 1921 there were only one million drivers in Britain. By 1939, this figure had risen to three million. But it was only during the 1960s, when cars became more affordable, that motoring really took off.
  • Licences for lorry drivers were introduced on February 16, 1934, under theRoad Traffic Act. The licensing authority could require the applicant to submit to a practical test of their ability.
  • In 1973 the number of drivers had risen to about 20 million and a centralised computer-based licensing system was brought in to cope with the huge increase in demand for both driver and vehicle licences.
  • In December 1958, the Preston bypassopened – both the first stretch of motorway in Britain, and the first 8.3 miles of the M6.
  • The M1 opened in November 1959. It was then looked upon as the London-to-Birmingham Motorway. Its 61.5 miles symbolised the start of the motorway age. Although widened, much of this motorway, complete with its 1950s bridges is still in use.
  • The M25 was completed and officially opened in October 1986.
  • Hundreds of thousands of copies of The Highway Code are sold each year, ensuring that it never leaves the bestseller lists. It’s one of the few books in print that can lay claim to saving thousands of lives.
  • When it was first launched in 1931 there were just 2.3 million motor vehicles in Great Britain, yet more than 7,000 people were killed in road accidents each year.
  • According to a Government report, the total road length in Great Britain in 2011 was estimated to be 245,000 miles, an increase of 2.1 thousand miles (0.9 per cent) over 10 years. Minor roads made up 87 per cent of total road length, with motorways and ‘A’ roads accounting for one per cent and 12 per cent respectively. Despite accounting for only 13 per cent of road length in 2011, major roads (motorways and ‘A’ roads) accounted for 65 percent of road traffic.

Martin added: “Just as British roads have come a long way, so has MAN as a company from June 21, 1915, when it was entered into the commercial register in the city of Nuremberg under the name ‘Lastwagenwerke M.A.N. -Saurer.

“Soon after this, the first M.A.N.-Saurer three-tonne truck left the factory on Lake Constance, followed shortly afterward by the first buses. The rest, as they say, is history.”