Via the Waltham Forest blog, I was made aware of the very perceptive comments of someone using the name "BikingBernie" on the bikeradar website. I recommend taking a look at both links.
There is more at those links, but to whet your taste, here's a segment of J.S. Dean's 1947 book 'Murder most foul: a study of the road deaths problem' as quoted by BikingBernie:
A vicious circle has been created. The more the drivers kill and maim the more right they become and the more right they become the more dangerously they drive. Or, to put the position from the opposite side, the more the non-drivers, and especially the pedestrians, are killed and maimed, the more this is proof of their carelessness and refusal to be "educated" and the more this is accepted the less care is taken by the drivers to avoid them, and this is applied to the youngest children and the oldest and most infirm persons... As a nation we are placed in the grotesque position of being forced to listen to and practice the degrading gospel of "Safety First" merely for the purpose of increasing the danger. There is no end to the process and there can be no end. Thus, it was not enough that the "responsibility" for child accidents should be placed on the children: the attempt is now being made to place it on their absent parents and guardians: as if more than a fraction of the nation's children or practically any of those of the working class can be accompanied more than very rarely in the streets, and as if parents and guardians generally did not live in a condition of perpetual misery and anxiety because of the dangers to their children. The "education" campaign that refuses to rebuke the drivers for breaking the law rebukes the parents when their children are killed or maimed.
.... In the first place this "education" is the worst possible training for the children as the drivers of the future since it teaches them to believe that the driver is the master of the road and that the only role for the other road-users, including the youngest children and the oldest and most infirm persons, is to keep out of his way and that if they are killed or maimed through not doing so this is something they deserve, Much of the motor slaughter may, indeed, be traced directly to the yearly appearance on the roads of young drivers brought up in this evil and destructive belief. Secondly, it is the worst possible training for the children as the citizens of the future, i.e. that they should be taught to accept the spectacle of the motor slaughter, with all its implications. as normal and as something to which they must submit without question. The spectacle of children passing from, one classroom where they have been told about the "great traditions of British freedom" to another where a police officer tells them that unless they keep out of the way of the motorist they will be killed or maimed and, by implication, will deserve to be, is neither pleasant not encouraging.
...The question of the general effects of this "education" on the minds of young children hardly lies within the scope of this work, but brief reference to it may be made:
A simple child
That lightly draws her breath
And feels her life in every limb,
What should she know of death?
Everything, say the "education" propagandists. Put the idea of death and destruction deep into their minds. Never let them forget it. Fill their lives with it. Teach them fear. Make them frightened and keep them frightened.