On this day : The 17th of August 1896

First Pedestrian Killed by Car

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At the subsequent inquest coroner Percy Morrison voiced the hope that such a thing would never happen again. If only.

Bridget Driscoll, a Croydon housewife in her mid-forties, was on her way to a folk-dancing display at the Crystal Palace accompanied by her daughter, and had just arrived in the grounds of the venue when she was hit by a car made by Anglo-French, the vehicle giving demonstration rides to potential customers.

As too often since, the driver (one Arthur Edsel) claimed to have been travelling at a slow speed – in fact 4mph – when witnesses including his passenger reported that the vehicle was going far quicker, one graphically comparing the car’s pace with that of a fire-engine. And like a fire-engine the Anglo-French was equipped with a bell to alert other road-users, a bell Edsel said he used to warn the group crossing the road. Mrs Driscoll survived the initial impact, but died shortly afterwards of head injuries, tragically entering the history books as the first pedestrian killed by a motor-car in Britain. After lengthy deliberations the inquest concluded the death was accidental.

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