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Pedestrian Crossing


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Director Michael Law
Duration 2min 15sec
Release Date 1948
Sponsor Central Office of Information for Ministry of Transport
Synopsis Humorous road safety trailer on the correct use of pedestrian crossings
Text version of this film


In 1951 there were two million cars registered on the roads of Britain, a figure that rose by 250 per cent over the next ten years. The rapid growth of car ownership in turn gave rise to government road safety campaigns.

In 1934 pedestrian crossings consisting of parallel rows of studs and Belisha beacons were introduced to reduce the number of road accidents (Belisha beacons were orange globes on top of black and white posts). By the late 1940's their initial success and awareness was waning.

Research had shown that both pedestrians and drivers alike were ignoring the crossings. This short film alludes to the fact by showing how to safely cross the road. Allied to the public information campaign, in 1949 the Ministry of Transport experimented with different pedestrian crossing markings to help improve visibility.

Red and white stripes, as well as the more familiar black and white, were considered at isolated experimental sites. By 1951 the black and white stripes, with Belisha beacons on either side of the road, were approved as 'Zebra' crossings; the first officially installed in Slough.

A year later further "improvements" were made to pedestrian crossings and the flashing Belisha beacons. The globes originally made of glass were replaced in 1952 with plastic since children kept throwing stones and smashing them!

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