Patrol officers share motorway memories
01 December 2009
Tales of huge pile-ups, Britain's first motorway crash and 50-year-old memories of the M1 have been shared at a special lunch.
Members of Northamptonshire Police's first motorway patrol team, set up in 1958, were reunited at Northampton Golf Club yesterday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the M1.
Among the guests were two of the eight officers who patrolled the motorway in Northamptonshire for the first time.
Frank Hart, now aged 88, and Dick Gimber, aged 77, were headhunted in 1958 to patrol the new road.
Mr Gimber, of Hardingstone, Northampton, said: "It was totally different from what we were used to.
"I remember it just poured down with rain the first winter it was open.
"It was very different from today. In those days there was no hard shoulder. There were no speed limits. There was no central barrier."
Mr Hart, from Burton Latimer, added: "At the start all sorts of testing things would happen.
"Stopping on the motorway was the biggest problem. There was no hard shoulder and lorries would sink into the grass verges, so they just stopped on the road.
"In the early days we were told not to book them, so we were just driving up and down giving out advice."
The pair said much of their time was spent dealing with flat tyres and cars that could not cope with the high speeds and long distances of the M1.
There were some other, slightly more unusual, jobs.
Frank said: "I remember driving along one day and I saw a family having a picnic by the side of the road.
"Then there was a Sunday when a guy in a Morris Eight broke down.
"He had three kids in the back and in those days it was very expensive to call someone out. I thought I would do my bit, so I got my tow rope out and took him a few miles down the motorway."
Police explain why they are needed
7:00pm Thursday 16th July 2009
By Steve Sowden »
THE road policing unit has a responsibility to attend the scene of all fatal and potentially life-threatening car crashes to determine the cause of the incident.
Investigating a fatal road traffic collision can be a complicated process that often results in lengthy road closures and unhappy motorists.
But the decision to close a road is never taken lightly and Avon and Somerset police always seek to act in a proportionate, thorough and appropriate manner.
To date there have been 29 fatal collisions in the force area this year, many of which have occurred on vital road arteries during peak periods.
While this can be frustrating for drivers, the highest quality of investigation is the top priority as there is only one opportunity to secure evidence.
Officers have a moral obligation to provide answers to the families, as well as a legal obligation to collate a detailed report for the coroner and determine if any offences have been committed.
All fatal road traffic collisions are treated as crime scenes and have to be cordoned off at the earliest opportunity to preserve and secure any potential evidence.
This can be a painstaking process that can take several hours but it is absolutely crucial, as once the scene has been re-opened there is no opportunity to return and any potential evidence will be lost.
Numerous police personnel are involved in an incident with a senior investigating officer overseeing the process assisted by collision investigators, scene management officers, sergeants from the road policing unit, and a family liaison officer.
Different departments within the force may also attend such as CID or CSI while support groups, search teams and dogs are sometimes deployed as necessary.
Other organisations such as the fire and ambulance service, the Highways Department, VOSA, the undertaker and recovery agents also work closely with police throughout an incident.
Inspector Martin King, who is based in the road policing unit, said: “While we are not dealing with murder, we have still got to investigate any death fully. Sometimes we are four hours in and we have only just got access to very important information.
“We do our best to co-ordinate everything to be as fast as possible but we are reliant on a number of different organisations with different roles and competing priorities.
Wiltshire drivers to heed the warnings
7:00am Saturday 11th July 2009
By Joe Ware »
Highways Agency officers are urging drivers on the M4 to take heed of warning signs after a crash near Leigh Delamere services.
A BMW driver lost control in lane three, hit the central reservation and ended up upside down.
Although police officers feared for the driver’s life he was cut from his vehicle by fire crews and taken to hospital.
Highway Agency officers shut down all three lanes of the motorway for 15 minutes while the debris was cleared.
But Highways Agency Officer, Sandy Osborough, of the Stanton St Quintin Outstation, said despite clear warnings drivers were swerving across the motorway.
“When a car hits the central reservation there is usually a lot of debris,” he said.
“There are lots of small stones which make up the drainage system and they go everywhere.
“It’s important we clear everything out of the way. We had officers in lanes two and three carrying out their investigation with cars coming at speed down the motorway and swerving to get into lane one.
“Some drivers were coming to a complete stop as they reached the accident.”
This was despite drivers being warned in advance using the new MS4 message boards, which have been installed along the length of the M4, after the crash, which happened just before midnight on Friday, June 26.
Mr Osborough said: “We’ve just spent millions upgrading to the MS4 system. We had three levels of warning up that night.
A wider M1 'will mean worse jams'
By Mark Ellis 13/07/2009
Widening Britain's two busiest motorways will make traffic jams worse, a roads expert predicted yesterday.
Government plans for more M1 and M6 lanes to ease congestion will simply attract more local traffic, Prof Phil Goodwin forecast.
And the Bristol-based expert said: "Even with the most ambitious programmes of motorway widening and hard-shoulder running, traffic will be going slower in 2025 than in 2003."
Some £6billion is due to be spent making motorways and major roads wider.
The green pressure group, the Campaign for Better Transport called for cheaper public transport to ease pressure on roads.
Spokesman Richard George said: "No matter how wide we make motorways they will keep filling up. We have to give people alternatives to driving if we don't want the country to grind to a halt."
Monday, 6 July 2009 19:07
'Pictograms' make motorway debut
Drivers on the M23 in Surrey and around Gatwick Airport will start to see new signs on the motorway - using pictures as well as words - from next week. At the moment the motorway signs are only able to display text messages in block capitals.
Now the Highways Agency is changing the display on 20 existing overhead signs to show pictures as well as words.
The "pictograms" are based on familiar road signs such as those for accidents, queues, high winds and skid risk.
The symbols are inside red warning triangles which are recognisable from some distance away.
Because they are easy for all road users to read and react accordingly, they can help to make roads safer, the Highways Agency said.
Network Operations Director Derek Turner said: "We are upgrading these latest generation signs with pictograms to get helpful and up-to-date information out to drivers.
"The programme is being rolled out across the country during the year."
Variable message signs on England's motorways are either set automatically, for example when they detect slow-moving traffic, or they can be set by an operator at one of the Highways Agency's control centres.
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Published: 17 April, 2009
The Highways Agency is the first UK customer to choose Sepura’s latest TETRA hand-portable, the STP8000.
This significant contract was made possible by Sepura’s partner, the managed services provider SunGard Public Sector, a software and IT services companies providing software and processing solutions for financial services, higher education and the public sector.Sepura radios will be supplied to the Agency’s Traffic Officers and Incident Support Units (ISUs).Traffic Officers are highly trained personnel who patrol motorways 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and work alongside the Police. A Traffic Officer’s chief objective is to keep traffic moving, whist ensuring that road travel is as safe and as reliable as possible. ISUs provide incident scenes with extra asset maintenance expertise and operate as a communication interface between an incident scene and the Highways Agency.
Sepura’s ground-breaking STP8000 is designed to withstand the most physically challenging conditions and offers the ruggedness and reliability that Highways Agency operatives need. Thanks to its water and dust resistance and the largest colour screen in its class, the STP8000 can withstand regular use in all weather conditions. In addition, the hand-portable’s loud audio offers clear and reliable communications in the exceptionally noisy motorway environment.
Richard Redgrave, Regional Sales Director for Sepura added “Our relationship with SunGard and the Highways Agency has gone from strength to strength since our first collaboration over four years ago. In addition, this contract win is very significant for us as the Highways Agency is the first national Airwave customer to adopt Sepura’s state-of-the-art STP8000 hand-portable”.
A spokesperson from the Highways Agency commented: “When looking to upgrade our fleet of digital radios, we had no hesitation in selecting the STP8000. Since May 2005 Sepura has been helping the Highways Agency to deliver safe roads, reliable journeys and informed travellers. In addition, the common user interface across Sepura’s comprehensive range of terminals has provided great benefits in operational use.”
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