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New Powers For Traffic Officers to Remove Vehicles

New Powers For Traffic Officers to Remove Vehicles

HIGHWAYS AGENCY News Release (HA/41/08) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 9 September 2008

New powers for Highways Agency Traffic Officers to remove and dispose of vehicles from England's busiest roads are a step nearer today.

New regulations were laid before Parliament today following informal and formal consultation, that will allow the Highways Agency's Traffic Officer Service to authorise the removal of certain broken down and abandoned vehicles from the strategic road network, which includes England's motorways and major A roads.

Breakdowns on the strategic road network account for only around one to two percent of all breakdowns. The regulations will give Traffic Officers powers similar to those currently exercised by the police.

The new regulations:
* provide Traffic Officers with similar powers to the police to authorise the removal of broken down vehicles and vehicles that are permitted to remain at the rest in contravention of certain statutory restrictions or prohibitions, or to authorise the removal of such vehicles that are causing an obstruction or danger to other road users and vehicles that have been abandoned on the strategic road network;

* provide the Secretary of State with powers to store and dispose of abandoned vehicles removed by Traffic Officers;

Derek Turner, the Highways Agency's Director of Network Operations, said,

"Giving our Traffic Officers these new powers was always envisaged to complement the work they are already doing around the clock to improve safety and reliability on our motorways. We completed a successful consultation earlier and the responses positively supported Traffic Officers authorising the removal of broken down and abandoned vehicles."

The Highways Agency undertook a successful consultation in the winter, ending in February. The consultation paper was sent to over 130 individuals and organisations. The paper was also available on the Highways Agency's website. Most respondents were supportive of the proposals.

Traffic Officers will help keep carriageways and hard shoulders clear of vehicles which appear to have been abandoned or broken down or are permitted to remain at rest in contravention of certain statutory restrictions or prohibitions and cause obstruction or danger to other road users as well as keeping traffic moving safely.

Parliamentary approval of the new regulations will then pave the way for the Highways Agency to work with a National Vehicle Recovery Manager and commence training of Traffic Officers. The National Vehicle Recovery Manager will run a recovery and removal service working alongside Traffic Officers and it is anticipated that the new arrangements will operate early next year.

The police will retain their powers to remove and dispose of vehicles but the extension of similar powers to Traffic Officers will free up police time.

The Highways Agency supports the valued role of motoring clubs / road rescue organisations and other suitable private arrangements since these will continue to provide the vast majority of vehicle removals from carriageways and hard shoulders.

The Highways Agency has consulted regularly with the police and the vehicle recovery industry about the regulations.

Anyone needing more information about the proposals can visit the dedicated pages on the Highways Agency's website at http://www.highways.gov.uk/vehiclerecovery.

Information is also available by emailing NVRP@highways.gsi.gov.uk or by writing to Kelly Luther, Network Operational Policy Team, Woodlands 1st Floor, Manton Lane, Bedford, MK41 7LW.


Notes to Editors

1. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport, which manages, maintains and improves the network of trunk roads and motorways in England on behalf of the Secretary of State.

2. The new regulations are to be called 'Removal and Disposal of Vehicles (Traffic Officers) (England) Regulations 2008'

3. The summary of responses to the consultation titled "The Removal, Storage and Disposal of Vehicles by Traffic Officers and the Secretary of State for Transport" is available from http://www.highways.gov.uk. For hard copies please email NVRP@highways.gsi.gov.uk or contact Kelly Luther, Network Operational Policy Team, Woodlands 1st Floor, Manton Lane, Bedford, MK41 7LW.

4. The Highways Agency and Police undertook a review of their roles and responsibilities on the strategic road network. This resulted in the introduction of the Traffic Officer Service, beginning in November 2004. The review concluded that certain traffic management functions should be transferred to the Highways Agency. It was agreed that the removal of vehicles in certain prescribed circumstances was a function which in the future, should be carried out by the Traffic Officers.

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