National Traffic


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February 22 2007
Ignoring direction fine

The first fine for ignoring the orders of a Highways Agency Traffic Officer has prompted a warning to road users’ fines of up to £1,000 and points can be implemented.

The Traffic Management Act 2004 states Traffic Officers are afforded powers to direct and divert traffic.

They can also stop traffic, close lanes, roads and carriageways, implement traffic signs, manage traffic and conduct surveys.

The reminder follows the first case of its kind in the country where a 45-year-old driver from Kent was fined £500 and given three points for ignoring the instructions of a Traffic Officer.

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select for full story Is there a road out of Ulster's traffic madness?

The chaos which crippled Belfast's roads leaving thousands of motorists stuck in gridlock has sparked questions over whether Northern Ireland should follow England's lead and create dedicated traffic officers, Victoria O'Hara investigates

Friday, February 23, 2007

After traffic chaos paralysed the city of Belfast for the second time in four months calls have been made to re-examine how government agencies manage our motorways.

Police and Roads Service revealed this week that despite closing the country-bound M2 and M5 foreshore motorways for four hours after the death of a man on Tuesday, no officers were deployed to direct traffic.

And the scenes of thousands of motorists in total gridlock mirrored the mayhem witnessed last October when it took around 14 hours to completely clear the M1 after a crash involving two lorries.

These two incidents have prompted questions from the public, politicians and members of the business community as to why the city's roads had to shut down, causing large parts of Belfast to grind to a complete standstill.

Now a Belfast consultant who helped restructure the English traffic management system has called for Northern Ireland to introduce traffic officers.

One year ago, following a review involving government bodies including the Highways Agency - which aims to provide motorists with safe roads - and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) launched traffic officers in England.

Since February 2006, 1,200 Highways Agency traffic officers have taken over three-quarters of the duties previously carried out on the roads by police.

They now have powers to:

The Government has invested £800m for the next 10 years to support the new traffic officers, seven regional control centres and 300 staff manning the centres.

And Anthony Aston, a spokesman for the Highways Agency Traffic Officer branch told the Belfast Telegraph it has been a great success.

Mr Aston said police officers still investigate the scene of an accident, but the traffic officers try to ease congestion problems.

"We have legal powers under the Traffic Management Act to stop and direct traffic and temporarily close roads or junctions."

Charlie Henderson, a management consultant for the PA Consulting Group based in Belfast, helped to implement the review in England and says it could work just as well in Northern Ireland.

"I helped the Highways Agency in England and Wales move away from a position of where they did primarily what the Road Service do now."

Mr Henderson said only 20 traffic officers would be needed to serve the Greater Belfast area.

A Roads Service spokesperson said: "When the Traffic Management Act was introduced in England and Wales in 2004, a review of roles and responsibilities' for the management of the road network was undertaken by Roads Service and the police in Northern Ireland.

"Clearly after Tuesday's incident a further review will be carried out. "


First birthday for kings of the road

By Emma Rees

select for full story IF you have an accident on the motorway, you may expect the first person to arrive at the scene to be a police officer or a paramedic.

But often it will be the Highways Agency's traffic officers who are there to administer basic first aid, redirect the traffic or make the area safe, before anyone else.

Northamptonshire's team of officers patrol the M1 from just north of junction 14 to just south of junction 20, and also the M45 and parts of the A14.

Traffic officer supervisor, Colin Dent, told the Chronicle & Echo: "The most important thing we do is look after the welfare of the travelling public; all aspects, including managing accidents and breakdowns.

"The most enjoyable part of it is meeting the people, and being out there knowing that you have made a significant difference to somebody's day.

"We help everyone from young mothers with little children to hard-nosed van drivers who don't always appreciate what you are trying to do."

On a typical day, the officers deal mostly with routine breakdowns and motorists stranded on the hard shoulder and organise their recovery.
Removing damaged and abandoned vehicles is another job, as is providing road closures.
And about 15 to 20 per cent of their time is spent attending road accidents, where they manage the traffic around the scene.

Mr Dent said: "Mainly, it means stopping and directing traffic and making the scene safe for the emergency services. We clear the carriageway of any debris and re-open the road.
"If there are injuries involved, it becomes a police-led incident. If it's a minor shunt with no injuries, we manage it ourselves."

The team's cars are fitted with everything from first aid materials, spades, and traffic cones to waterproof ponchos, blankets and flashing lights to put around an accident scene. They also carry a kit to clear up minor oil spills.
There is always a minimum of two crews – four officers in two cars – on patrol in the county, and generally three crews plus a supervisor.

And the officers do a six-week training course covering all aspects of the job, including first aid.

Mr Dent added: "We have a tremendous bunch of staff here, we are very fortunate to have a first-class team at Watford Gap out-station."

21 February 2007                view more news               view the thread on this               view the article

Keeping the Network Moving

Coffeeholic reports ........
Thu Jan 25, 2007

I arrived at the out-station on the northbound side of Toddington services just before two o’clock and met up with Mark, who had sent me the invite a couple of weeks previously.the Mitsubishi Grandis I waited while Mark completed some paperwork and sorted out the three crews who work this shift then he gave me a tour of the out-station and explained the area they cover, which is mainly the M1 from the bottom end up to between junction 14 and 15. After I had signed an indemnity form, we ventured outside to our vehicle for the shift, a Mitsubishi Grandis, and as in our job the first task was the daily checks. As well as all the normal vehicle checks the equipment was checked to make sure it was all present and correct. Packed into the load space were 20 traffic cones, 9 amber flashing lights, 2 brooms, a high power torch, various signs, foil survival blankets and waterproofs that can be handed to stranded motorists. There was also a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher but these are only supposed to be used for the officers and their vehicle and are not used to treat members of the public or tackle other fires.

With the checks complete, we used the service road to cross over to the southbound side of the services and out onto the motorway so Mark could take me down to South Mimms to visit the Regional Control Centre (RCC). We cruised along at 50 mph and kept very near to the rumble slip, Mark explained that this made it easier to spot and react to vehicles on the hard shoulder. Yes, some motorists mistook us for a police vehicle and pretended they always drove at 51 mph as they crawled past us but it is not fair to blame the HATO’s for the stupidity of some motorists. The roadwork section past Luton was running freely and we continued south accompanied by the chatter of the radio. It seemed as if I was listening to an alphabet soup of messages with acronyms such as RTC, BDV, BBS, RRB and VMS issuing from the speaker. As we entered the slip road from the M1 to the M25, we spotted a Peugeot on the hard shoulder. Mark flicked on the amber flashing lights on the roof of the Grandis and we pulled up a short distance behind the stricken vehicle. As we approached the car, four people climbed out and Mark went to speak to them. They explained the AA had been called and they had been told that a patrol would be with them in about 15-minutes. Mark explained that they should not wait in the vehicle but instead should stay on the verge, behind the crash barrier. We returned to the Mitsubishi and Mark called the details through to the control centre. As well as the vehicle details, he had taken the drivers name and mobile number, which he passed to the RCC. The mobile number would be used to check on the peoples welfare should their wait be a long one. He also asked if it would be possible to get a camera onto the car so a check could be kept on it.

We arrived at the RCC without encountering any more vehicles requiring assistance on our side of the carriageway although Mark did call in the location of a horsebox parked on the opposite shoulder, the driver of which had waved across at us as we went past. Control dispatched another vehicle to go and check if he needed assistance and it turned out the vehicle had ran out of diesel.

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31 January 2007                view more news               view the thread on this               view the article


Highways agency pay dispute moves to strike ballot
16 January 2007 11:11
About 615 traffic officers, engineers and other Highways Agency workers have already voted to reject a 3.6% pay rise, with only 105 voting to accept it.

Members of Prospect union, which represents more than one third of all Highways Agency employees, threatened that a positive vote would trigger discontinuous action, starting with a one-day walk-out.

Prospect negotiator John Higgins said: “Highways Agency’s managers are patting themselves on the back because all of their key performance indicators have been met. But this was only possible because members worked above and beyond their contracts to provide 24/7 cover on time and on budget.”

“Their diligence in keeping the traffic flowing has earned them the nickname jambusters. But, after previous modest pay settlements, Treasury constraints have resulted in management imposing an offer that not only fails to provide ‘jam tomorrow’ but will see 80% of members taking a pay cut.”

The result of the ballot will be announced on 2 February.

16 January 2007                view more news               view the thread on this               view the article

Please select to enter the world of John Child

Make motorway limit 80mph to cut jams


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The speed limit on motorways should be raised to help the network to function more efficiently, a report for the Government has concluded.

Motorists would benefit most if traffic travelled at a 'target speed' of 78mph, it said.

This would enable quicker journeys, without seriously jeopardising safety.

The report by the Highways Agency examined the overall costs and economic benefits of travelling at speeds of between 30mph and 100mph - taking account of time at the wheel, fuel burned and accidents.

It concluded that 78mph was the most economical and 'appropriate' average speed, despite a rise in fuel consumption and more 'costly' crashes when vehicles travel faster than the current 70mph limit.

Similar calculations were also conducted for dual carriageways, where the most beneficial speed was found to be 71mph.

But traffic on single carriageway trunk roads was found to be most efficient at 54mph - 6mph lower than the present 60mph limit.

The report said: "At these targets, the network would operate in a balanced, safe, reliable and economic way to benefit society and users."

However, the Highways Agency report stopped short of recommending the changes, due to associated rises in exhaust emissions from vehicles travelling faster.

Congestion is estimated to cost British industry £15 billion annually.

The report revealed that an accident typically causes an hour's delay for 1,300 vehicles at a cost of £12,280 in fuel, missed appointments and time catching up - around £10 each.

The report, entitled "Development of a speed limit strategy for the Highways Agency" was carried out by the Government's former transport research laboratory, TRL.

13 January 2007            view more news            view the thread on this            view the article


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Drivers praise North East Traffic Officers service

05 January 2007 00:51

Highways Agency Traffic Officers in the North East have been given a glowing report from drivers in their first customer feedback survey. Praising the Traffic Officers as 'helpful', 'courteous' and 'a credit to the Agency', drivers gave them a 96% rating for overall satisfaction.

The research is based on returns of pre-paid complimentary feedback cards Traffic Officers have been handing out to customers involved in motorway incidents since April 2006. The 'Tell Us What You Think' cards allow customers to rate the performance of on-road Traffic Officers and their colleagues in the North East Regional Control Centre in Wakefield.

Control Room Supervisor, Richard Marshall, said: "It's great to hear that we are making a difference and genuinely helping people. Being involved in an accident or breaking down on the motorway can be dangerous and stressful. "The Traffic Officers are there to ensure the safety of drivers and to put their mind at ease as much as possible. After helping people to safety, they will then get traffic moving again as quickly as possible. It's great to hear that our assistance is appreciated."

Highways Agency Traffic Officers and the Regional Control Centre have been introduced to Yorkshire, Humberside and the North East in a £7.8m plan to tackle incident-based congestion on local motorways and the A1, allowing the police more time to deal with criminality.

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The Traffic Officer's 2007 CALENDAR!!

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Print out this colossal calendar of Traffic Officer mayhem and have a chuckle through the coming year of 2007. John Child, a LONDON graphic designer, kindly put this calendar together for us and has promised to pen a couple of Traffic Officer cartoons in the not too distant future as well!

Select to download a free copy of Acrobat Reader if you don't have Adobe Reader then click the Adobe ICON to get it free!

You will need to have 'Acrobat Reader' to successfully download the calendar as it is in PDF format. If you don't have acrobat reader already then please click on the red adobe icon to get it absolutely FREE!!

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The Traffic Officer's 2007 CALENDAR!!

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What do YOU think of the Traffic Officer's calendar?

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