National Traffic

  2008 articles


23rd October 2006 - Mitsubishi Grandis is Highways Agency's top MPV select for full article

This month sees the Highways Agency take delivery of six Mitsubishi Grandis – the first ever order of MPVs for the agency's Traffic Officer fleet. The Highways Agency plays an ever-increasing role in the administration of traffic flow on England's strategic national routes, with its vehicles now a regular sight on major roads and motorways all over the country. Already equipped with a large fleet of 4x4s, the agency decided to trial a vehicle that can transport personnel and equipment capably and efficiently from its regional control centres and out-stations to scenes of incidents and other locations where support is required.

To determine whether a two-wheel-drive MPV would best suit this purpose, rather than a fully equipped 4x4, the agency researched the market and assessed a variety of vehicles in order to select the model which would best suit its criteria: to be able to carry at least four personnel in comfort, to hold a range of equipment such as cones, signs and lamps and have minimum impact on the environment. After careful consideration, the Highways Agency selected the Mitsubishi Grandis Equippe Di-D, with manual transmission, as its first choice of MPV for its Traffic Officer Service.

A spokesman for the agency said: "We identified the need for an additional vehicle that can carry a range of equipment and comfortably transport management and support staff. The payload capability of the Grandis allows us to do this and even gives us flexibility to add more items if required. We also require our vehicles to be as economical as possible and leave a minimal environmental imprint. The diesel-engined Grandis was selected because it best fulfils these requirements and represents good value - very important when spending public money!"


30 Dec 2008
Father and son Traffic Officer team for East Midlands
Faye Sunderland

While most of us are planning to spend January recovering from the festive season, Bill Howard of Northampton is gearing up to follow in his son's footsteps and become a Highways Agency Traffic Officer.

Bill (52) has just completed his training and is about to become a member of the East Midlands 24-7 Traffic Officer service team at Watford Gap outstation.

His son, Marc (28) also of Northampton, joined the Traffic Officer service in April and enjoyed the job so much he encouraged his dad to apply for the service too.

"Marc was so enthusiastic about the job so when I saw the Highways Agency was recruiting again I thought I would give it a try," said Bill.

"I previously worked for a supermarket chain, so was experienced in customer services. Now I am really looking forward to putting those skills and my Traffic Officer training into action," he added.

Although Bill and Marc will both work from Watford Gap, they will work on different shifts. After finishing his initial training, Bill will then continue training, under supervision, before becoming a fully accredited Traffic Officer.

His son Marc finished his training earlier in 2008 and is getting used to the wide range of incidents he comes across as a Traffic Officer. "“I like the variety of jobs that we do, I never know what is around the corner," said Marc, who was a telecoms service engineer and a special constable before joining the Traffic Officer service.

The East Midlands Traffic Officer service was launched in February 2006 and Watford Gap outstation become operational in July 2006.

Traffic Officers keep traffic moving by helping broken down motorists, drivers involved in collisions and by removing debris from the carriageway. They have powers to stop and direct traffic and can provide mobile and temporary road closures. Between 1 December 2007 and 30 November 2008 Highways Agency Traffic Officers attended over 281,000 incidents on 2,025 miles of England’s motorways and selected trunks roads - that is an incident on average every two minutes.

On-road Traffic Officers are supported by colleagues in the Regional Control Centre in Nottingham who set motorway signs, monitor CCTV and answer emergency roadside telephones across the East Midlands.

Traffic Officers work closely with the police but do not have enforcement powers. However it is an offence for road users to ignore their directions.

Traffic officers called to motorway incidents every two minutes
Monday, December 29, 2008

Traffic officers attended more than 22,500 incidents in the South West in the past year as they patrolled 209 miles of motorway in the region.

The Highways Agency said throughout England, officers went to an incident on average every two minutes.

Even on Christmas Day, more than 50 officers were on duty, working from their South West regional control centre at Avonmouth.

The agency said between December 1, 2007, and November 30, 2008, the service patrolled 2,025 miles of motorways and trunk roads across the country and attended more than 281,000 incidents.

Their work included managing traffic and checking the welfare of drivers and passengers who had broken down.

But they were also involved in less routine incidents and two officers were commended by Avon and Somerset Police after helping a man who had left a suicide note at his home and was later seen on the Severn Bridge, leaning over the edge of a barrier.

Lee Evans and Dave Britton managed to persuade the man to move away from the barrier and stay with them until the police arrived.

Members of the team have also been involved in a new traffic filtering system on the Severn Bridge aimed at cutting the number of times the crossing is closed to all vehicles due to high winds.

Now, when wind speeds exceed 40 knots, the crossing remains open to vehicles under 6ft 9in in height, while higher vehicles and motorcycles are diverted to the Second Severn Crossing. The bridge loses if wind speeds reach 60 knots.

Officers are also due to take on extra duties that will allow them to remove and dispose of vehicles from England's busiest roads.

New regulations to be rolled out in 2009 will give them similar powers to the police to authorise the removal of broken down or abandoned vehicles and those causing an obstruction or danger to other road users.

select to view full story Traffic lights could be put on M25 motorway
Traffic lights could be put on the M25 in an attempt to keep London's main arterial road running smoothly.

By David Millward, Transport Editor

Last Updated: 9:51PM GMT 07 Nov 2008
The lights will be placed on a number of slip roads, holding traffic back from joining the motorway for up to a minute at a time.

The plans have triggered fears that congestion could be exported onto country roads, as queues build up.

However some road engineers in counties bordering the M25 fear this could threaten gridlock on country roads if congestion on the motorway reaches unacceptable levels.

The M25 has been earmarked for the system, known as Integrated Demand Management or "IDM".

Exactly where the lights will be placed has still to be agreed. Talks have already started between the Agency and local authorities, who are demanding assurances that they do not suffer as a result.

"I have concerns about it," said Rob Smith, a traffic official at Hertfordshire.

"My job is to protect the county and its road users, although I also have to take a strategic view and the M25 is important to the country.

"But if the M25 fails it can cause a problem."

Kent County Council, which has first hand experience of what happens when traffic backs up at Channel Ports, voiced concern at the proposals.

Its experience with Operation Stack, which turns the M20 into a lorry park, shows what can happen with such schemes.

"Not only does this cause traffic congestion, but also hits businesses because deliveries are held," a county spokesman said.

"Once the traffic spills on to our A roads, the knock on impact would mean that we could have the traffic management problems rather than the Highways Agency.

Essex has also sought assurances that local traffic will not be snarled up by gridlock on the M25.

"There are problems already. We approve of congestion management as long as it does not make these even worse."

Surrey, meanwhile, said it had discussed the issue in "some depth" with the Highways Agency.

Iain Reeve, Surrey's head of transport, has sought reassurances that roads in the county would not suffer.

"We would be concerned if there was any stacking up of traffic. But the Highways Agency has said this will not be allowed to happen.

"If traffic does start to back up, they said that they will switch the lights off.

"But if there is a problem, we will take it up with the Highways Agency."

Buckinghamshire, however, is more relaxed because it is only likely to be hit if the M25 suffers complete gridlock.

"We are working with the Highways Agency on their plans to make sure that the local road network does not suffer," said Keith Shaw, the county's highway network and traffic manager.

However, the Highways Agency defended its proposals, which it described as a "holistic approach" to traffic management.

"We are still exploring options for IDM measures in and around the M25 with the local highway authorities and no specific measures have been confirmed," a spokesman said.

          view the thread on this

TruckNet UK users discuss job security and HATOs
07 October 2008

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What a difference a year makes. Just 12 months ago, drivers using the forums were reporting that they could leave a job and find new employment by the morning. Now drivers are saying there's little or no work out there, and the sector is peppered with lay-offs and redundancies.

Agency drivers are reporting that they are getting fewer offers of shifts, and those that are being offered are at declining rates of pay. In the Owner-Drivers forum, those involved in construction are saying that work has virtually dried up. It is clear that a lot of people are nervous about their jobs and futures, and many are expecting the situation to worsen.

The vast majority of discussions on TruckNet UK are conducted in a civilised and respectful manner, and the forums' rules strictly forbid personal attacks on individuals. However, one recent discussion concerning HATOs (Highways Authority Traffic Officers) has strayed over the line.

What could have been - and, for the most part, was - a decent discussion about the role of HATOs and whether it would be preferable to have better-funded police patrols has been derailed by a minority who have a problem with the whole idea of HATOs.

A small number of traffic officers have defended their role but it seems that some members are not willing to have a discussion and listen to an opposing point of view. It is a shame that this particular thread will probably be locked shortly as within it there are a number of very good points raised. One thing that has come out of the discussion is that many professional drivers feel that HATOs do a worthwhile job and contribute to making our roads safer.

Finally, for those wanting a little nostalgia, the Old-Time Lorries forum includes some posts with Commercial Motor articles from years gone by. Especially fascinating are multiple articles detailing a trip to the Middle East and all the problems associated with it... these sorts of archived pieces, along with drivers' own memories, make the forum a compelling read. select for full story

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A Halesowen woman is one of the first Highways Agency traffic officers in England to achieve a certificate in traffic management.

Twenty-six-year-old Nicola Collinson from Malt Mill Lane was presented with her certificate at a ceremony at the National Heritage Motor Museum in Warwickshire.

Nicola, a control room manager at the Highways Agency's £10 million regional control centre in Quinton, said: "I am thrilled to have achieved this qualification.

"It helps recognise the high level of skill and judgment needed to undertake the critical role we perform every day of the year to keep the regions' motorways running smoothly."

Nicola's job involves managing a team of control room operators who answer emergency roadside telephones, liaise with motorway police and set the messaging signs on the motorway network alerting motorists to incidents.

3:56pm Wednesday 14th May 2008                 full article                view the thread

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  2008 articles