A group dedicated to keeping roads safe in the Ilkley area has spent almost 70 years promoting standards and sounding the alarm on potential dangers.
Since it was set up in 1945, Ilkley and District Road Safety Committee has seen enormous increases in traffic on the roads, many changes to the law, and concerns ranging from drink-driving to driving while under the influence of drugs.
Today it continues to uphold its aims of influencing the public to raise the standards of road safety, and encourage all road users in the art of good road use, and proper exercise of courtesy and care.
The Committee was established as a result of a Ministry Circular, there being then great concerns that the easing of traffic restrictions post-War would result in an increase in road accidents.
It was mainly the concern and responsibility of local councils though half of the funding came from Ministry funds.
Now meeting once a month, Ilkley and District Road Safety Committee still aims to fulfil the objectives set out in its constitution in 1995.
Members of the current committee are drawn from those committed to improving road safety and include a driving instructor, members of local civic societies, parish councils, Ilkley Community Against Speeding, the police and other interested bodies.
It reports directly to Bradford Council, making suggestions, queries or complaints concerning traffic, street lighting, road markings, and other highway maintenance and engineering matters.
It is also in contact with bodies such as the police and Government departments over road safety and law enforcement matters.
Reg Cranage, Ilkley and District Road Safety Committee chairman, said: “As we are all aware, over the years there have been many challenging changes.
“Traffic volume has increased as has the size of vehicles. Parking space is at a premium – witness the extensive roadside parking around Ilkley town centre, in New Brook Street for example and also on many of our residential roads throughout the district.”
Through its history, the organisation has seen the perils of drink-driving become more well known.
The introduction of the breathalyser in 1968 led to a huge drop in drink-drive deaths and accidents. But Government figures show that in 2012 there were still 9,990 drink-drive accidents in the UK causing 280 deaths and 1,210 serious injuries.
“We now also have to contend with the dangerously distracting in-car use of mobile phones and other electronic devices,” said Mr Cranage.
Pavement parking and the proliferation of “poorly placed” A-boards, some impeding sight lines for drivers, are among the present-day hazards the committee is looking into.
And although it is 80 years since the 30 miles per hour speed limit in built-up areas became mandatory, the committee says inappropriate speeds and speeding are frequently brought to its attention by both roadside residents and pedestrians.
But there have also been notable successes.
Studded dropped kerbs have been installed to help wheelchair users and those with limited vision.
Eye testing equipment has been available at road safety events to help remind drivers that good sight is important part for road safety.
The committee also hails the success of short-stay parking areas – making visits to shops possible without charge – vehicle activated speed warning sighs, and portable speed indicator devices (SIDs) And members are campaigning for the nationally-recommended 20 miles per hour zones around schools. These are in place in Burley-in-Wharfedale, Menston and Addingham, but not yet in Ilkley.
Looking towards the future, Ilkley Road Safety Committee expects many improvements in technological road safety equipment in the near future, as predicted by the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
Changes ahead may include: “drugalysers” for police to test drivers for drugs; lower drink-driving limits; graduated licences for new UK drivers, anti-lock brakes on motorcycles and E-call emergency buttons in cars.
Despite surveys indicating the idea is unpopular, the first driverless cars could be on UK roads within six years.
And intelligent speed adaptation devices may prevent cars exceeding local speed limits – with research suggesting this could reduce urban accidents by 33 per cent.
Mr Cranage added: “In the meantime, we continue to support our district in road safety matters and hope to maintain its reputation as a pleasant and safe locality in which to live.”
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to contact the committee.