Traffic Officers across the West Midlands have received positive feedback from motorway users in a customer satisfaction survey.
Internal performance figures from the region also confirm that the West Midlands Traffic Officer service is performing above the national average on a range of measures aimed at improving the experience of the West Midlands road users.
The Traffic Officer Service was introduced to the West Midlands in April 2004 to keep drivers on the move along the region’s busy motorway network. On-road Traffic Officers patrol 24 hours a day to reduce the impact of incidents and congestion on motorists’ journey times. Control Room Traffic Officers monitor motorway CCTV cameras for incidents, set warning signs, answer emergency telephone calls and dispatch Traffic Officers to incidents.
In the Agency’s latest Customer Satisfaction Survey the region’s Traffic Officers are rated consistently highly by customers – putting them above the national average.
The work of control room traffic officers in answering emergency telephone calls are rated a maximum 5, 5, 5 and 4.75 in terms of friendliness and reassurance, good advice, responding to customer needs and the speed of answering the calls – compared to the national average of 4.75, 4.83, 4.75 and 4.83 respectively.
On road patrols scored 4.91, 4.89, 4.95, 4.95 and 4.95 for having a good appearance, being reassuring, politeness and courtesy, being professional and being knowledgeable – compared to 4.88, 4.87, 4.92, 4.90 and 4.89 nationally.
Overall, Traffic Officers in the West Midlands were judged as very good or excellent by 99 per cent of respondents. Meanwhile, the West Midlands Traffic Officer Service’s own performance figures suggest customers’ satisfaction is well-founded.
On the busiest routes on road patrols are meant to arrive at 80 percent of incidents within 20 minutes and performance in the West Midlands is now around 87 percent. Traffic Officers are asked to attend 95 percent of all incidents within 40 minutes - the figures for the West Midlands consistently runs at 99 percent.
Control room Traffic Officers are equally efficient - answering around 97 percent of calls into the control room within 20 seconds, well above the 90 percent target.
Jenny Moten, Regional Operations Manager in charge of the West Midlands Traffic Officer Service, said, “We are delighted that the responses from our customers recognise the hard work of our Traffic Officers on a day to day basis. Traffic Officers across England play a crucial role in keeping drivers on the move – but of course it is pleasing to see figures which suggest the West Midlands Traffic Officer Service is among the best performing in the country.
“As well as the Traffic Officer Service, the Highways Agency offers a number of services to reduce congestion and improve reliability. The Highways Agency website provides up to date traffic information and works in conjunction with Traffic Radio and a mobile website. Furthermore, we offer information points at all major service stations around the country so motorists can plan their journeys effectively.”
The customer satisfaction survey also provides positive written comments for the Traffic Officers. Contributions such as “The two officers were absolutely fantastic” and “Excellent, professional and made sure I was safe” are typical.
Traffic officer tells of amazing recovery
21 October 2009
Rob Potter suffered serious head injuries when a lorry ploughed into his car parked on the hard shoulder of the M56.
He was trying to help motorist Gabriella Herdman, who had run out of petrol, when his vehicle was struck in February 2006.
Rob, 29, said: "I remember leaving the break area at a service station and moving onto the hard shoulder. From that point my memory dies."
Rob, who is based at Samlesbury, and his colleague gave Miss Herdman safety advice and were discussing their next job when a 40-tonne HGV careered into their Mitsubishi Shogun.
Miss Herdman, 35, was killed in the accident near Bowdon, Cheshire, and the Highways Agency officers were seriously injured.
Rob, of Collingwood Road, Chorley, added: "The vehicle was shortened by three feet and we were trapped against the barrier."
Rob was left with a displaced and fractured jaw and chin, a fractured rib and eye socket, and part of his nose was torn.
His brain injuries were so severe hospital staff kept him in a medically-induced coma for two weeks.
He has undergone more than three years of therapy and rehabilitation and still suffers problems with short term memory, and his personality changed.
He added: "It's like living in the past and not remembering the present.
"But I'm finding ways to overcome that like having a diary and writing down appointments.
"My temperament was also changed but I've managed to form a way where I can calm myself down. I've had a complete personality transplant."
Lorry driver Anthony Kennedy, who was four times over the drink drive limit, was jailed for eight years.
Darth Vader breaks down on M1 whilst driving R2D2's car
01 October 2009
The force was with Highways Agency traffic officers who came to the rescue of one of the movie world's best known baddies after his car ground to a halt on the M1 in Northamptonshire.
Actor Dave Prowse, best known as Darth Vader in the original Star Wars films, was heading north on the M1 for a role in a film when his car developed problems between junctions 18 and 19.
He pulled onto the hard shoulder and rang through to the East Midlands Regional Control Centre using an emergency telephone and a patrol was dispatched to help.
The star, who educated a generation of children as TV's Green Cross Code Man in the 1970s and 80s, said: "I was on my way to rehearsals and filming and I was also due to attend a reunion of the 501st UK Garrison, which is a Star Wars costumed charitable organisation, at the National Space Centre in Leicester.
"I'm the Commander in Chief worldwide so it was really important that I was there. When I broke down my boot was full of memorabilia and photos."
On-road traffic officers Craig Chapman and Asha-Jayne Neary, based at Watford Gap outstation, and control room traffic officer Jo Li who was gaining experience of life on patrol, were dispatched to the scene. While assisting David the traffic officers realised who he was and also the unusual history of his Mercedes car.
Mr Prowse said: "It has a great provenance as the car was previously owned by my good friend Kenny Baker who was R2D2. Because of Kenny's size he used to keep a little ladder inside the boot so he could climb up and put his suitcases in the back.
"When he had finished, he'd put the ladder back into the car but then he couldn't reach to close the boot, so he had tied a cord to the boot handle.
"I decided to leave the cord there as a reminder of the car's previous owner."
Traffic officer Craig Chapman said: "We meet all kinds of people on the hard shoulder and every day is different. But since I started work for the Highways Agency
Surfboards among motorway debris
30 July 2009 | BBC
Suitcases, surfboards, canoes and a kitchen sink are among the hundreds of objects to have fallen off car roof racks in Devon and Cornwall.
The Highways Agency said it dealt with 652 reports of debris on motorways in the South West last year.
An agency spokesman said many of the items came from unsecured luggage and top boxes during the summer months.
It has urged drivers to make sure anything they carry on top of their cars is securely tied on.
Regional operations manager Andrew Page-Dove said: "The risk of lost luggage can easily be avoided with a few simple checks.
"Our advice to drivers is to stop in a safe place and check your luggage before you join the motorway in case items have worked loose.
"Many people don't even realise they have lost something until they reach their destination."
WALES: Civilian traffic officers plan to ease M4 jams
2:44pm Friday 26th June 2009
DRIVERS will get stuck in fewer traffic jams on the M4 in Wales thanks to an agreement between the police and the Assembly Government, it has been claimed.
Civilian traffic officers will patrol the motorway, allowing the police to concentrate on emergencies and serious incidents.
Paid for by the Assembly Government and with the power to control traffic, the patrols are also going to be tested on the A55 in north Wales.
It follows concern that diversions and long hold-ups after crashes on the M4 are harming the economy.
The four Welsh forces have drawn up plans for policing the roads with the Assembly Government in an attempt to cut crime, accidents and congestion.
Called Y Maniffesto (The Manifesto), it says the forces will share information and resources, including GPS equipment for gathering evidence at crash sites.
There could also be more joint operations using technology that automatically checks number plates against police databases.
North Wales chief constable Richard Brunstrom said the traffic officers would work with the emergency services to achieve "slicker incident management".
"You're going to see reduced congestion," he told BBC Radio Wales.
"The police service are accepting formally that we have a role to play in protecting and supporting the Welsh economy, and we've all seen the damage caused to the economy by incidents on the M4, for instance the M4 closed for 12 hours.
"Hopefully, that will be a rarity, if not unheard of, within two or three years time."
Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "This is a very important strategy which outlines how the Assembly Government and the police will be working together to improve safety and cut delays on Wales's busiest roads.
"We are already putting in place traffic officer cover for the M4 and have announced a trial for a similar service on the A55.
"We have also announced a separate trial on the M4 looking at getting people to a place of safety and re-opening lane space quickly following breakdowns and similar incidents."
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South Wales Police scrap M4 patrols
POLICE in South Wales have carried out their threat to stop routine patrols of the M4.
May 7 2009 by Steffan Rhys, South Wales Echo
The decision means the dedicated roads policing unit, that once patrolled the motorway 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, will now only attend incidents or clear debris where there is an “immediate high risk to public safety”.
The move, which was greeted with “horror” by an Assembly Member last night, follows South Wales Chief Constable Barbara Wilding’s comments in February that she would stop policing the motorway unless the Assembly Government provided more funding.
South Wales Police was unable to say last night how much the withdrawal of the M4 policing unit – which consisted of four police sergeants and 34 constables – would save the force.
When not at incidents, the unit routinely patrolled the motorway and its arterial routes to provide a high visibility presence. But police will now attend only incidents that require their presence.
Superintendent Joe Ruddy said: “We can confirm that from May 1, traffic officers employed by the force will no longer routinely patrol or routinely clear debris from the M4 and arterial road networks in South Wales, unless there is an immediate high risk to public safety.
“We are currently working closely with South Wales Trunk Road Agency (SWTRA) and Transport Wales to ensure there is no reduction in service and that the safety of the public is maintained.
“We are encouraged that significant steps are being taken as we work together towards an agreement that will transfer responsibility for the management of the free flow of traffic on the roads network to the Welsh Assembly Government.
“This would give us parity with other forces throughout England and Scotland, and would enable traffic officers to focus on our core business of tackling crime on our roads and keeping South Wales safe”.
South Wales Central AM Chris Franks said last night he was “horrified” at the move.
He said: “I feel it is totally unacceptable. I cannot understand the attitude of senior police officers and I think the travelling public will be very unhappy at this decision.”
But Mr Franks denied the Assembly was to blame for not providing extra funding. Although policing is the responsibility of the Home Office, in England extra money for traffic officers is provided by the Highways Agency.
He said: “If the Home Office wishes the Assembly Government to be responsible for policing then it should be a part of the normal budget.”
Cardiff Central MP Jenny Willott said: “South Wales Police do have a major problem with funding so I’ve some sympathy with them but on the other hand it’s worrying that people could end up with a worse police service in South Wales than they have.
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Officers teach of M-way dangers
May 01, 2009
HIGHWAYS officers from Milnrow are warning school pupils about the dangers of straying onto the motorway.
Each year in the North West, there are around a dozen sightings of pedestrians walking along the motorway.
Last year traffic officers from Milnrow discovered a child walking her dog along the hard shoulder of the M60 near Ashton-under-Lyne.
Officers from the Highways Agency’s base in the Milnrow outstation, near junction 21 of the M62, are visiting 30 schools in Rochdale and Oldham to deliver safety talks to youngsters to help combat the problem and keep children safe.
The officers are targeting children aged 10 and 11 who are in the last year of primary school or first year of secondary school.
The presentation has been devised by traffic officers Graham Wynne-Jones and Charles Smith and focuses on the differences between motorways and other roads, and what children’s parents should do if they break down.
Mr Smith said: "Unfortunately traffic officers are spotting pedestrians on our local motorways on virtually every shift.
"The feedback has been positive and, as far as we are concerned, if these presentations save one life then it will have been worth it."
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