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Roads: Traffic Officers

Volume 691: debated on Wednesday 9 May 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the role of traffic officers who patrol some motorways in four-wheel drive vehicles; and what is their role in enforcing or monitoring compliance with road traffic legislation. [HL3550]

The traffic officer service has been developed to enable the Highways Agency to take on a more proactive role in managing the strategic road network in England. The service has taken on a number of control-room and on-road functions traditionally undertaken by the police.

The role of traffic officers involves: managing incidents except where there is loss of life, injury or potential criminal activity, when they will support the police at the scene; setting signs and signals, and answering emergency roadside telephones; arranging the removal of damaged or broken down/abandoned vehicles in partnership with the police and removing debris and other obstructions from the carriageway.

Part 1 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 was the enabling legislation introducing the Highways Agency traffic officer service on the strategic road network in England.

Traffic officers have the power to stop and direct traffic and pedestrians and to erect temporary traffic signs.

Traffic officers do not have an enforcement role. This responsibility remains with the police. Both the Highways Agency and the police support this position. Traffic officers support the police where there are fatalities or suspected criminality at an incident. The traffic officers’ role is to manage traffic in the vicinity of an incident, and in doing this they may liaise with the police on matters of compliance with road traffic law.