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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Highways Agency Traffic Officers

Traffic Officers from the Highways Agency help keep traffic moving and offer support for drivers across England. Find out about what they do and how they can help you if something goes wrong on your journey.

Traffic Officers: who they are and what they do

There are around 1,500 Highways Agency Traffic Officers working to keep England's motorway network running. There are Traffic Officers on duty 24 hours a day every day of the year.

Traffic Officers do many of the jobs that traffic police used to do. They work in on-road patrols and are supported by staff at Highways Agency regional control centres.

Their role includes:

  • managing traffic and clearing up incidents to get everyone moving again as soon as possible
  • arranging for the removal of damaged/broken down or abandoned vehicles
  • setting up mobile/temporary road closures as needed
  • removing dangerous debris from the road
  • monitoring roadworks and traffic flow

Traffic Officers and the police

The police are responsible for dealing with major incidents and criminal behaviour, but almost all other road duties are carried out by Traffic Officers. For example, when the police and emergency services are called to a major collision, Traffic Officers manage the traffic and clear up the debris afterwards.

If you break down on the motorway a Traffic Officer will usually:

  • check on your welfare
  • move your vehicle to the nearest place of safety (usually the hard shoulder or an emergency refuge area) if you break down in a live traffic lane
  • help you to arrange recovery
  • give advice to help you stay safe while you are waiting

A Traffic Officer cannot arrest you for speeding or dangerous driving (although they may report this to the police).

The powers that Traffic Officers have

Because Traffic Officers are responsible for keeping traffic moving, they sometimes have to close roads and redirect traffic.

It is an offence not to follow a Traffic Officer's instructions and could lead to:

  • a fine of up to £1,000
  • a driving licence endorsement or disqualification

Traffic Officers and regional traffic control centres

On-road Traffic Officers are co-ordinated and supported by colleagues at the seven Highways Agency regional control centres. These staff:

  • liaise with police and on-road Traffic Officers
  • set overhead signs and signals to tell drivers of any delays ahead
  • monitor CCTV and look out for drivers in trouble
  • answer calls from emergency roadside phones, dispatching patrols when necessary

Where to get more information

If you want more information on Traffic Officers and their role, you can download a leaflet from the Highways Agency.

If you would like to find out about becoming a Highways Agency Road Traffic Officer, you can get more information by following the link below.

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