The first organized groups to promote pedestrian safety formed in response to the increasing prevalence of automobiles on city streets. Some of the groups, like the Long Island Highway Protective Society established in 1902, were independent associations. However many, such as the Society for Political Study’s Committee for the Prevention of Reckless Driving and Street Accidents and the Safety First Federation of America’s Street Traffic Committee, were part of larger civic organizations. Often at odds with increasingly powerful motorist lobbies, these groups pushed for greater regulation of drivers and motor vehicles, including the adoption of speed limits, the installation of traffic signals, stricter enforcement of roadway rules, licensing requirements, and competence exams for drivers. They also argued for the creation of uniform traffic laws, including laws to protect pedestrians at crossings. Safety organizations paid particular attention to educating children, who were accustomed to using city streets as their playgrounds, about roadway safety.
The Pedestrians Association continued to operate throughout World War II, pushing the government to allow pedestrians to carry flashlights at night for safety, even during blackouts. After the war automobile ownership in Great Britain continued to increase, and the Pedestrians Association stepped up its campaign in favor of speed restrictions. It was also an early voice against excessive private vehicle travel, publishing several papers that pointed out the dangers of relying too much on foreign oil.