select nationalTraffic main    select nationalTraffic FORUMS    select another nationalTraffic interview     select a nationalTraffic QUIZ   NOTICE
this website is not owned by the Highways Agency. This site is unofficial and features the views of Traffic Officers which are their own personal opinions and personal views only.
national Traffic image

pick an interview
select to view interview of this member
select to view interview of this member
select to view interview of this member
select to view interview of this member
select to view interview of this member
select to view interview of this member
select to view interview of this member
Guinness Man
select to view interview of this member
select to view interview of this member

Enter John Child's WORLD!!

all in the day of a HATO

join us on the forums for top HATO chat, advice and the latest news!

Our forums regularly see the latest rumours, fears and worries of the H.A guys and gals who hit the UK's motorways each and every day.


Race Track: 27.3.07

falkor: [text blocked]

Race Track: [text blocked]

falkor: [text blocked]

Race Track: [text blocked]

falkor: I tell you what this is bloody awful though isn’t it? I mean you know what was just going through my mind as I was listening to you there RT, “We can’t put ANY of that in the actual interview at all can we?” It’s TERRIBLE isn’t it? select to view profile of Race Track!

Race Track: [laughing]

falkor: no honestly it’s a flipping nightmare. I mean it’s almost like a no go from the first second isn’t it?

Race Track: well it depends

falkor: no we’ll have to go under such flippin scrutiny here, I’ve done 2 interviews this morning for national-PCSOs and of course you can just say anything and now I’ve got nationalTraffic it’s just such a different ball game – I just feel so [text blocked] [laughing]

Race Track: I’m sure we’ll be able to throw something up

falkor: yeah thanks ever so much for phoning and welcome to national traffic interview number one

Race Track: great!

falkor: now I’ll start asking you a few real cripplers, you don’t mind do you?

Race Track: No I don’t, go ahead

falkor: have you ever pressed the emergency button?

Race Track: errr yes

falkor: well every HATO has, they all have, any interesting ones from you RT?

Race Track: never in anger, only by accident

falkor: only by accident?

Race Track: only by accident

falkor: really?

Race Track: the first few days of service – well we knew what it did, but nobody ever dared touch it and I was coming to the end of a shift and it had been a beautiful day – just like today actually – all sunny and warm and all of a sudden I could hear this noise in my earpiece and I could hear this chirping and I thought “What’s that?” and I looked at the vehicle radio and it was flashing “EMERGENCY” and the first thing that went through my mind and then came straight out of my mouth was “OH SHIT”

falkor: [laughing]

Race Track: and of course the radio was on a hot mic because whenever anybody presses their emergency button so everybody across the region got “OH SHIT” over the airwaves

falkor: I didn’t even know that you HAD an emergency button on your radio! I was talking about the emergency button on the dashboard

Race Track: Oh no no no

falkor: there’s 2 then!

Race Track: well we have personal radios

falkor: I didn’t know that you had an emergency button on the radio

Race Track: oh yes

falkor: That is amazing, well what a good thing!

Race Track: yeah all the radios that we have – the airwaves sets have all got them and the vehicle radios are made by the same company, they’ve got them

falkor: well I know all about the emergency button on the police radios, but it didn’t occur to me that you would have them too, now you say that you’ve never set yours off in anger, but have there been any cases where Traffic Officers have set them off in anger then?

Race Track: I only know of one and that was somebody who was putting a rolling roadblock on and as they were doing that, somebody was in the carriageway and somebody had broken the block and at that time someone happened to of keyed up to use the radio to call somebody else and they couldn’t get in to warn them, so they just hit the emergency button – pressed the button and shouted out a warning

falkor: great! sounds good and talking about rolling road blocks, that reminds me actually. someone did a post the other day about rolling road blocks, saying that there is a risk of litigation – did you read that one RT?

Race Track: there can be

falkor: how on earth can there be a risk of litigation?

Race Track: well you’re controlling the traffic, we all know we’ve got powers under the Traffic Management Act

falkor: yes

Race Track: We’re putting on a rolling road block, that’s when we’re ordering someone to behave or following a line of traffic, don’t pass the car, now the nature of a rolling road block is that traffic starts to bunch up behind you, because you’re generally bringing the speed down as well and on some parts of the network if you put on a rolling road block and you go into a bend and your bunch of traffic if it’s fairly light, it might be 6 cars deep and 3 cars wide, now if a car goes into a bend and you’ve brought the speed down to 20 mph, somebody behind you who ignores all the signals, assuming the signals are set of course, comes winging it around a blind bend into the back of stationary traffic. Why was that traffic stationary? Well the traffic officer put on a rolling road block.

falkor: Ahhhhhh

Race Track: The risk of litigation is small, but did he do it in accordance with procedures? YES What was the reason they were doing it? The risk of litigation reduces but if you just threw one on without thinking about it, then you leave yourself wide open

falkor: Right well now that you’ve said all that I do understand, so let’s move on to rear VMS “DON’T PASS” “STAY BACK” these sort of things – are they worth using? And have you used them?

Race Track: Yes all the time

falkor: You use them all the time?

Race Track: Oh yes, absolutely, all the time. The VMS or the VMP – variable message panel right in the back of the car, was only intended to be a bit of assistance, it was never supposed to be such a widely used tool and suddenly all these messages that it can display are being used on a daily basis. For any incident, you’re going to use your VMS

falkor: But there’s only two messages that are legal “DON’T PASS” and “STAY BACK,” those are the only 2 that you can use

Race Track: well they’ve agreed more, but just not put them in yet

falkor: they’ve approved more?

Race Track: yes “SKID RISK” “PULL OVER” now what are the other ones? There’s about 8 – I can’t name them all off the top of my head

falkor: I was only kidding there but that is true then is it? You can only use 2?

Race Track: Yep

falkor: Oh

Race Track: The Dept of Transport approve the messages on behalf of the Highways Agency. The legends that we can have, there’s a bit of an argument going about whether we can have animated arrows – the DfT don’t want anything animated on the back of our cars – it comes from old legislation and old regulations about vehicle lighting – they don’t seem to understand the fact that the Police have used them for between the last 8 and 10 years, mind you the VM panels were huge then and they’ve got better and brighter now and those message panels have been around for ages but who’s going to prosecute the Police?

falkor: well exactly it’s not going to happen is it?

Race Track: exactly

falkor: so moving on …. Do you see a development of the Traffic Officer role since 2003?

Race Track: yes. Because I’ve compared it from the early days – I’ve seen the report of the trials from the West Midlands and that’s where I’ve really latched onto watching the developing role there. From what they were doing in the early days in the West Midlands, they didn’t have a lot of powers, they didn’t have powers under the Traffic Management Act and that’s where the powers came and now we’re at the stage where everyone has pretty much followed their stance on service across the whole country. Everybody’s got the powers and everybody’s now gaining that experience that was so desperately needed in the early days. The actual service has probably not developed any further than what it was intended to, but we do find ourselves doing more and more than was first envisaged. We find ourselves busier if you know what I mean

falkor: yes but I suppose that’s not a bad thing is it?

Race Track: oh no

falkor: So now onto double days – people are talking about this on the site and I’m not sure what it means, I’m not a traffic officer myself so I imagine what that means is it’s a traffic officer who doesn’t want to work night duty

Race Track: well it might not be a case of the fact that they don’t want to work night duty it’s probably a case of the contract that they were offered that they wanted to go for and that they got but essentially you’re right, they only work EARLY shift or LATE or DAY shift

falkor: and for that they get £70 a week less – is that right?

Race Track: something like that

falkor: £70 a week less than the ones who do night duty?

Race Track: that’s 12½% shift allowance instead of 20% shift allowance

falkor: which do you think is best though RT is it the double days or the night duty one?

Race Track: personally I’m 24/ 7 I like nights – I can get a lot done on nights – it can either be absolutely deathly quiet or it can be totally manically busy, never 2 are the same so I like the nights, gives me a chance to catch up on my paperwork and things that I’ve not read

falkor: yes I was in the Police for 30 years and what you’re saying I echo totally

Race Track: ah right then

falkor: so let’s move on to the vehicles Shoguns Landcruisers Pathfinders Discoveries – those are the 4?

Race Track: those are the 4 yes

falkor: and which is the best out of those 4?

Race Track: My preference is the Discovery

falkor: You like the Discovery, are they decreasing in numbers?

Race Track: they are yes, well they’re not decreasing there are not as many because they’re expensive, they’re more than the other ones

falkor: what is it in terms of performance that outshines the others?

Race Track: well speed wise we’re all limited anyway but it’s slightly faster on the 0 – 60 it drives better it’s got a better visual presence on the motorway than the others but if we talk about the Nissan

falkor: [interrupting] it’s a British motor isn’t it?

Race Track: the Nissan?

falkor: no no the Discovery

Race Track: the Discovery is yes it’s the only one built in this country as well which is why we have something like that – it’s surprising the amount of enquiries we get, people say well we’ve seen your motors and why do you not buy British?

falkor: thank you for that RT, now you’ve been a member of nationalTraffic for 6 months

Race Track: oh yes

falkor: is there anything that you’d like to see changed on the site?

Race Track: No, if there’s anything going to be changed it’s only going to be minor. The site does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s well managed. The only thing that could possibly be changed is the front structure – how the topics are split up – I don’t know how you’d do that or what you’d ever put them in.

falkor: nah nor me, you’ve got me on that one - I don’t either [laughing]

Race Track: [laughing] [text blocked]

falkor: I’ve noticed now that if you actually go in as a guest you get some of those topics coming up from Mission Control and you think “Crikey! What are they doing there?” and when you click on them you can’t view ‘em! [laughing]

Race Track: well no but these people can get a flavour and might want to register

falkor: Oh yeah I read on the forums about a Range Rover going over and you replied to a guest that it wasn’t a Supervisor driving but an OM and I don’t really know what an OM is to be quite honest

Race Track: OM is short for Operations Manager

falkor: is that one above supervisor is it?

Race Track: Yes it is

falkor: So do you know anything about this Range Rover going over then RT?

Race Track: No [text blocked] nobody was injured and that’s the main thing

falkor: So moving on [2nd cup of coffee moved into position by the missus] what is the actual deal with PNC checks? Because you said once on the forum that there was a PITO agreement, what the hell is that?

Race Track: [rhetorical] what does it stand for?

falkor: no idea

Race Track: Police Information Technology Organisation or something like that? PITO is the governing body for all the Police Forces on IT and information – so, airwaves agreements – operating standards – police computer technology - ANPR …..

falkor: [interrupting] You said there was a PITO agreement RT what does that actually mean? How does that bear onto Traffic Officers? select to view profile of Race Track!

Race Track: Well you can imagine PNC has only been a Police resource up to very lately – I mean we still don’t have it in the Highways Agency yet

falkor: oh right

Race Track: When the Highways Agency said “well we’re going to take on responsibility for moving vehicles, we’re going to need to know whether there’s any markers on the vehicles or we need to put a note on it to say that we’ve been with the vehicle so that somebody doesn’t think it’s stolen when they ring the police” so eventually they agreed “Yes ok we’ll give the Highways Agency a limited view of PNC and PITO were the ones who agreed to it and decided what the standards will be and you can do this and you can’t do that.”

falkor: is it possible to give a couple of examples RT? I really can’t imagine what you’re saying there

Race Track: Well I’ve not seen the agreement but I can imagine it being along the lines that the Highways Agency will have a ‘write access’ i.e. can put information on the vehicle log, but cannot see personal details about vehicle owners – or persons, body checks, it’s only going to be about the vehicle

falkor: Oh I see

Race Track: so that’s the kind of defining limit for what they’ve said that we can and cannot have access to

falkor: hmmm seems a bit disappointing doesn’t it?

Race Track: well I understand part of it, it’s a Data Protection issue isn’t it, it’s who can have access to my information, they’ve got to be a bit careful about what they give away, we don’t need anything else – well we could do with PNC for persons if it’s a pedestrian issue but pedestrians still remain a criminal offence so it’s not our remit

falkor: fair enough

falkor: well you had a look on YouTube for motorway related clips didn’t you? – what’s your best clip on there?

Race Track: I think it’s got to be the road wars, the sky series where the officer on the motorbike gets attacked by somebody with a sword

falkor: yeah I saw that, I love that one that one is absolutely crucial

Race Track: [laughing] it does everything that they say don’t do in the ACPO guide for motorway driving

falkor: [laughing] oh my god the first time I saw that I couldn’t believe what I was watching

Race Track: [laughing]

falkor: I honestly could not believe it and as you say it’s just so damn revolutionary that one isn’t it?

Race Track: oh yes

falkor: it’s amazing how many motorway clips there are about nowadays

Race Track: what’s that?

falkor: those clips of the motorways

Race Track: well the advent of the mobile phone. What we see a lot now is at incidents – especially if there’s something fairly interesting, people driving past – the passengers are up against the windows with a mobile phone taking a video of it

falkor: but a lot of those are so bloody boring though aren’t they? I should think out of every hundred you get about half a dozen decent ones

Comment on this interview! Have your say on what falkor and Race Track were talking about : just click here

Race Track: of course

falkor: how did you actually find out about national traffic anyway RT? Can you remember?

Race Track: well going back to the early days I remember that somebody else did a forum and it got taken down and I think that was an employee

falkor: right

Race Track: and I think it must have been from a google search – I know nobody at my outstation told me about it so ….

falkor: [interrupting] can you tell me a little bit about this other site that you were talking about? What was it called?

Race Track: … I can’t remember … I never registered but I do remember seeing it although it was only up for a few weeks

falkor: oh was it

Race Track: yeah it had not even got up it’s own steam

falkor: oh I’d love to have a look at it – but I know it’s impossible to do now but I’d be absolutely fascinated to find out a bit more about it …

Race Track: [interrupting] it would be interesting if there was a cached version somewhere

falkor: yeah and y’know I read a post on there the other day someone said “oh I really struggled to find this site” something like that and then someone else came back to them and said “I don’t know why you struggled to find it, you’ve only got to type in ‘HATOS’ and the site comes up top of the google”

Race Track: THAT’S RIGHT [laughing]

falkor: then I thought “Does it?” and I had a look on google and blow me IT DOES AS WELL! Absolutely flippin right

Race Track: I don’t know about any other search engines but it comes right at the top of google

falkor: well Google’s the top one isn’t it? I should imagine most people – even when I’m at work I go straight to – in fact on the Surrey Police intranet they’ve actually got google as one of their hot links and you just go straight to it

Race Track: oh fantastic

falkor: they want you to use it

Race Track: we might have that on our intranet – to take you to google on the website, I’ll have a look at that when I get back in to work

falkor: [silence]

Race Track: [silence]

falkor: Have you seen anything decent on telly lately then RT?

Race Track: [silence]

Race Track: hmmmm trying to remember what the telly looks like

falkor: [laughing] You’re too busy!

Race Track: yeah been quite busy what with work and …. Yeah we watched a good film at the weekend but now I can’t remember the name of it – I have to tell you that unfortunately in this house I am not the ruler of the remote control

falkor: oh yes you’re the same as me – yes exactly the same as me I do sympathise

Race Track: I tend to go with other people’s viewings sometimes

falkor: yeah do you know what I know exactly how you feel and yet when I quote that they won’t have it [burst of laughter]

Race Track: [laughing] [then silence] we don’t say that in public

falkor: no that’s right

Race Track: [still laughing]

falkor: well what else is there to talk about?

Race Track: I believe you do the PCSOs one as well?

falkor: that’s right

Race Track: how long’s that been going?

falkor: that’s been going since 2004 and what happened with that one was that the host that I had it going with viewed the fact that if you had the cheap package which was about £50 a year or something you only deserve to get a cheap performance

Race Track: ahhhhh

falkor: and we pretty soon noticed that the forums were just crawling to a halt. I mean if you clicked on – I don’t know page 2, or whatever or go to “Front Door” or something you could be sitting there looking at a loading bar at the bottom of the page for 30 seconds quite easily 40 seconds and sometimes if you’re waiting that long I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this happen on a website RT but the whole page just goes white and it says something like “done” and you’re just looking at a blank page because it’s just taken too long

Race Track: yeah I know

falkor: and this is what was happening and I was sending emails to ‘Tech Support’ saying I have been sitting on the forums trying to do something for 50 seconds … and NOTHING, WHY HAS IT ALL GONE INTO SLOW MOTION?? And they send back an email saying “well would you like to go to the next package up?”

Race Track: [laughing]

falkor: and I thought “this is crazy!” Y’know it just wasn’t working RT and I don’t know if you’ve noticed with nationalTraffic we’ve got what is known as a “main site” with static pages and we had the same thing with the PCSOs and they worked alright but sometimes it was happening on there as well if you wanted to go to a different page, so in the end I complained and complained and complained and I really wasn’t getting anywhere and I then actually had to go to a new host then, but I tell you what .. I was paying more money – so really they were right … you only get what you pay for

Race Track: oh yes

falkor: but that was a painful learning lesson for me RT I tell ya

Race Track: with national traffic the site’s increasing isn’t it?

falkor: I know

Race Track: It’s getting bigger

falkor: we got a bandwidth warning on national traffic after a couple of months and I couldn’t believe that. I just sat there looking at that email and in the end I actually queried it with the host saying “Is this for real?”

Race Track: [laughing]

falkor: we’ve gone over the flippin bandwidth and we never had that on national-pcsos so I was shocked! I thought “what the hell is going on here?” so I had to go to the next bandwidth rating up – it was 10MB I think it’s 20 now – so I was absolutely shocked I was [laughing]

Race Track: well it’s good news isn’t it

falkor: well it is yeah

Race Track: there’s absolutely nothing else out there apart from the official ….

falkor: [interrupting] I think there will be though – this is what happened with the PCSOs ones – we were the only one for a good couple of years but there’s 2 or 3 more already now

Race Track: is there?

falkor: yes. I think once people see that national Traffic is not being hounded to death by the HA I tell you what RT, we’re not going to be on our own forever

falkor: which is probably not a bad thing

falkor: Do you know the Met Police actually provided an official forum for their PCSOs way after I launched national-PCSOs and it was a total success

Race Track: really?

falkor: oh yeah! They just put it in the hands of some civilian at somewhere like NSY I expect and they didn’t supervise it to any particular level and things were getting very interesting on there, various warnings were issued, PCs were coming on there and making their views known – quite colourful at times for sure, with a couple of warnings that the whole lot would be shut down – it lacked all the sophistication of the presentation that we’ve got on our site

Race Track: yes

falkor: you know Outlook Express? If you can imagine Outlook Express AS A FORUM this is what they offered the PCSOs in the Met and I believe it’s still going ah yes I just remembered – I tell you another huge difference, they scrubbed all their messages relentlessly after about a month I think – you could only go back a month on there

Race Track: ahhhh

falkor: I actually copied and pasted some of the stuff off of there because it was just unreal it was just so funny to read because people were getting totally out of their pram right left and centre

Race Track: [laughing]

falkor: and I thought “hey this is official!” but I think if they did that on the HA and stood back a bit – but would they? This is the difference isn’t it?

Race Track: well who knows? We’ve got the technology there. Like you said, “Who’s going to look after it?” Certain things we’ve got to look out for. I think with it being so new people would be afraid to ….

falkor: possibly

Race Track: ….. come out and say “this isn’t working” or “we’ve got that wrong” alright the PCSOs – the concept of it was fairly new but you have some strong characters there and there are some in the Police as well – this is still fairly new and I know we get some Police dipping into the nationalTraffic site – you can spot their posts

falkor: it’s good yes I’m glad

Race Track: we’ve got Blackrat anyway select to view profile of Race Track!

falkor: Oh yeah

Race Track: sorry I was reading two things at once there

falkor: [laughing] I do understand, anyway thanks very much for phoning RT – I think that’ll probably do

Race Track: no problem

falkor: you are a gentleman

Race Track: and thanks very much for giving me the opportunity

falkor: well thanks a lot. I really mean that – cheers RT

Race Track: okay bye bye
interviews 2007: summary information
#sitememberinterview date GO TO includes
1national Traffic Race Track27.3.07 V I E W  ever pressed the emergency button?
risk of litigation on RRBs
12½% shift allowance or 20% shift allowance
PITO | the site before NT
national-PCSOs early days
2national-PCSOs alihowe27.3.07 V I E W  dogs and cats | street wardens | 3 litre Capri | Granada 2.8 Ghia
Lotus as a summer project
judo for PCSOs
going over to the dark side
heavy confrontation | actually doing crime reports
3national-PCSOs GlynB27.3.07 V I E W  UNISON PCSO working group
Drum and Bugle Corps | South Yorkshire Police Band
PCSOs can go onto age 65? | membership of UNISON
Met Police's PCSOs are gradually replacing Station Officers
lower pay for PCSOs? | zig zag lines
PCSOs being issued with batons etc
4national Traffic mondeoman28.3.07 V I E W  Gist logistics | Prospect, union
Police ride ons
verbal abuse in the course of your duties
the site before NT | we’ll be traffic police
get rid of all the PCSOs
5national Traffic Tricky30.3.07 V I E W  Major Incident Training
Dartford River Crossing Police
cooking | Accuracy Brevity and Clarity
Muttley in the hi-vis
French | spam | Dr Who
6national Traffic pongolad30.3.07 V I E W  caravans | legless on the motorway
United Nations
tropical fish
7national Traffic Keokeo31.3.07 V I E W  the problem of passwords and usernames
firefox V IE | subMerged
H.A. model of Toyota Landcruiser
Silverstone grand prix | night security
maglite | driving instructor | CSMA | Blues Brothers
Bradford's media museum | a windy Thursday
8national-PCSOs micky1.4.07 V I E W  'PCSO observers' | s59 seizing a car
offduty | 'pointless taxi productions'
challenging people to races
access to crimint and CRIS
PCSOs being posted to the front office
the 2004 survey!
9national-PCSOs CIDB1.4.07 V I E W  Kew Gardens 2005 | £80 PNDs
PCSO ANPR operator | seizing for no insurance
XBOX 360 | shoplifters
going to the gym 4 times a week
a power to detain, but without using force
UNISON | handcuffing someone
10national Traffic Guinness Man1.4.07 V I E W  police rideons | incident support units
Traffic Officer grade assessors
Rover TC and the Rover 3500S
union | bank holiday working
11national Traffic TheWanderer30.3.07 V I E W WorldWidePolice | emergencyservicesonline
Dartford River Crossing Police
YouTube and the motorway videos
cover shifts | John Child
car stickers and metal badges
#sitememberinterview date GO TO includes

Comment on this interview! Have your say on what falkor and Race Track were talking about : just click here

national Traffic image
select nationalTraffic main    select nationalTraffic FORUMS    select another nationalTraffic interview     select a nationalTraffic QUIZ   NOTICE
this website is not owned by the Highways Agency. This site is unofficial and features the views of Traffic Officers which are their own personal opinions and personal views only.