U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
In June 2002, the Highways Agency (HA) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) commissioned a review of roles and responsibilities in managing the strategic road network. This review was commissioned as a result of the Secretary of State's request that the Highways Agency take a more proactive role in traffic management on the network with the specific remit of the following:
This was to be achieved by making the best use of existing road network capacity. The review, which concluded in November 2002 and was published in June 2003, detailed a strong case for a transfer of certain traffic management tasks from the police to the HA. This would enable the Agency to take a more proactive role in traffic management and for the police to focus less on traffic congestion and more on the prevention and detection of crime. In consequence of this review the Traffic Management Act 2004 was enacted.
The following presents questions and responses related to the Traffic Management Act.
To enable the transfer of traffic management tasks from the police to the Agency, the TM Act enables the Secretary of State to create an on-road uniformed Traffic Officer service. Traffic officers will predominately manage the traffic consequences of random highways events, such as obstructions, debris removal, accidents, and breakdowns. Specifically the TM Act enables Traffic Officers to carry out these traffic management functions by providing them with special powers similar to those that the police currently have to stop and direct traffic and place and operate temporary traffic signs. The Act also sets out the type of duties that can be assigned to Traffic Officers, defines where they can operate, and sets out offences in relation to the special powers and to traffic officers themselves.
The duties that may be assigned to Traffic Officers must be either connected with the management of traffic or the performance of any other functions the Secretary of State has as the traffic or highways authority for a road. This means that the majority of duties assigned to Traffic Officers will relate to the management of traffic. However, it also allows some highways authority duties to be assigned. As Traffic Officers are the "eyes and ears" of the Agency on the ground, they may be asked to patrol the network to report back on overgrown vegetation or damage to infrastructure. If the Act did not enable Traffic Officers to be assigned some highway authority duties, Traffic Officers would not be able to do this.
Traffic Officers can be assigned special powers in order to carry out their duties. Under the TM Act they have the power to stop and direct vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians when in regulation of traffic in a road. This is the same power a police constable has under section 35 and 37 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. They also have the power to stop vehicles under section 163(1) and (2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This in effect would enable a traffic officer to stop and pull over a vehicle. This power will only be used where that vehicle poses a safety risk, for example a lorry's tarpaulin has come loose and needs securing. Traffic Officers also have the same power as a police constable has under section 67(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act to place and operate temporary traffic signs. This power will be used to direct/warn traffic due to an accident or obstruction ahead.
Yes. As Traffic Officers have the power to stop traffic, they can in effect close lanes, carriageways, and roads. However, they can only do so in relation to unplanned events. Traffic Officers can't be used to established traffic management systems for road works and avoid obtaining temporary traffic regulation orders! They will also conduct rolling roadblocks, manage traffic at traffic surveys, and could also escort abnormal loads if required.
Yes. Under section 5(3) of the TM Act Traffic Officers can only use the special powers for a purpose connected to the following:
From the above it is clear that a Traffic Officer's remit is focused on the safe movement of traffic and the reduction of congestion. Traffic Officers can only use the special powers for a purpose described above on a road that they have jurisdiction for (see next section) and they must be in uniform.
Traffic Officers can only use the special powers on roads within their jurisdiction. By virtue of the act traffic officers can operate on any road in England for which the Secretary of State is the traffic authority. In essence this means Traffic Officers can only operate on roads for which the Highways Agency is responsible. Traffic officers can operate on motorways and all-purpose trunk roads, although the initial rollout will only be on motorways. A Traffic Officer's jurisdiction can also be limited to specific Agency routes. For example they may only operate on the M1 between J12 and 15 or at certain tunnels.
Traffic Officers can use their special powers on local roads. However, they must have consent from the local highways authority or the police. It is likely traffic officers may need to use their special powers off network when:
A similar agreement is in operation on the Welsh border. Traffic Officers can operate on Welsh roads providing they have the consent from the local highways authority or the national assembly for Wales. Traffic will not operate over the Scottish border as agreed with the Scottish Executive.
It is an offence not to comply with a direction given by a Traffic Officer or a traffic sign placed by a Traffic Officer (providing it is not advisory). The offence and penalties are the same as those attached to sections 35, 36, 37, and 163(1) and (2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Therefore, if motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians fail to stop or proceed as directed by a Traffic Officer then they could receive a fine not exceeding £1,000 or a fixed penalty fine of £60. In the case of motorists there is a possibility that they could have three penalty points endorsed on their license. If motorists or cyclists fail to comply with a sign placed by a Traffic Officer then they may be subject to a fine not exceeding £1,000. Depending on what sign has been breached, offences may include fixed penalty fines of up to £60 and for motorists three points endorsed on their license. Under section 10 of the TM Act there are also offences against Traffic Officer themselves. This is to ensure Traffic Officers are protected when in execution of their duties. Therefore it is an offence to assault, willfully obstruct, or impersonate a Traffic Officer. It is also an offence to fail to give a name and address to a Traffic Officer where that Traffic Officer reasonably believes that person was the driver of a vehicle who failed to comply with a direction given or sign placed by a Traffic Officer. The penalties are fines of up to £5,000 and in severe cases imprisonment not exceeding 1 year.
No. The Agency, ACPO, and the Government felt that enforcement sits best with the police and their focus on the detection and prevention of crime on the network. Where an offence is committed a traffic officer will notify the police, who will deal with the situation as they see fit.
Traffic Officers have been operating in the West Midlands since April 2004. In the first instance they undertook in a coordination and liaison role working very closely with the police, as Part 1 of the TM Act did not come into force until October 4, 2004.
The first batch of Traffic Officers in the West Midlands have now completed powers legislation training and were rolled out onto the network in January 2005. Traffic Officers will continue to be rolled out on to the motorway network through 2005 and into early 2006, starting with the South East in August 2005 and completing with the East Midlands in 2006.
Yes. Traffic Officers will require statutory removal powers similar to those that the police currently have to remove and dispose of vehicles. The Agency will also require powers in regard to storing and disposing of such vehicles. Provision will also need to be made in respect of recovering costs for the removal, storage, and disposal of the vehicles. This can be achieved through secondary legislation, which is envisaged to be introduced at in the first quarter of 2006. In the interim Traffic Officers will continue to rely on the police powers.
Police will retain primacy at all major incidents including those where serious injury or fatalities have occurred. Under the TM Act a Traffic Officer must always comply with any direction given by a police officer. Minor incidents will be dealt with by Traffic Officers without the need for police attendance.
Part 1 of the TM Act is distinct from the rest of the Act. Traffic Officers have no duties or powers elsewhere in the act. For example they cannot direct statutory undertakers to move off the network nor are they undertaking civil enforcement duties. Part 1 should therefore be looked at in isolation from the rest of the Act.