A key figure in the Road Haulage Association experienced the frontline operation of the Highways Agency by going on patrol with Highways Agency Traffic Officers in Kent, as well as visiting the Highways Agency’s first ever National Vehicle Recovery Manager, FMG Support in Huddersfield.
Nikki King, chair of the RHA's Recovery Members' Committee, which represents RHA's members in that industry, spent three hours earlier this month with Traffic Officers from the Coldharbour Outstation patrolling the M20, M26 and M25 in the garden county.
The Traffic Officers are part of the South East Traffic Officer Service and in common with other Traffic Officers across England have been using new powers this year to order the quick and safe removal of abandoned, broken down and accident-damaged vehicles from the motorway network.
The new powers are designed to ensure that any incidents where no police interest exists, such as non-injury accidents, can be cleared up as safely and as quickly as possible – keeping drivers safely on the move.
Nikki King then visited the Highways Agency’s National Vehicle Recovery Manager, FMG Support. The National Vehicle Recovery Manager manages the removal, storage, and disposal of vehicles authorised by traffic officers. They can call on a network of some 120 Vehicle Recovery Operators (VROs) that form part of their supply chain to respond to incidents over England’s motorway network.
It was a great opportunity for Nikki King to see first hand the 24/7 service centre which manages vehicle removals when requested by traffic officers.
Most drivers breaking down are unaffected by the changes. The vast majority of vehicle removals for motorways in England continue to be carried out by customer’s own suitable private arrangements.
But where a traffic officer orders the removal of a vehicle, the Highways Agency’s first ever National Vehicle Recovery Manager Contractor provides a performance related response to remove the vehicle, playing their part to clear up the incident scene quickly and safely –getting drivers back on the move as soon as possible.
The RHA Recovery Members' Committee (RHA RMC) represents its vehicle recovery operators and arrange for some of its members to provide RHA Rescue, a specialist service to fellow RHA members and Nikki King was keen to get an insight into the Highways Agency’s new powers at first hand.
After patrolling with Traffic Officers Joe Parkinson and Dave Snooks, she said, “The RHA’s RMC recognises the importance of clearing incidents quickly and safely and having the opportunity to be on the front line with HA Traffic Officers has provided me a real perspective of what they have to deal with and the pressures to keep traffic moving safely. There is more to it than just the vehicle removal, but this is an important component when a combined response is needed. It was great to see vehicle recovery operators being seen as part of the Highways Agency’s incident management family when responding to incidents they deal with.
“We wish to play our part in responding to our RHA members should they break down or be involved in an accident which HA Traffic Officers are dealing with.
“I am encouraged that HA Traffic Officers support suitable private arrangements such as the RHA RMC but equally recognise that in some circumstances where a vehicle is in a live lane and is causing and an immediate obstruction or danger this may not always be possible. I was impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of the HA team”
Gary Bacon, who has been leading the delivery of the new powers and scheme, said, “Our Traffic Officers are out on the motorway network around the clock, everyday of the year. We were delighted to get Nikki along so she could see for herself the work they are doing, including using these new powers, to keep drivers, including RHA members, on the move.
“The RHA is one of our key stakeholders. The motorway and trunk road network carries two thirds of all heavy freight traffic in England and the Highways Agency’s work to provide safer, more reliable journeys is crucial to businesses and industry.”
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 removal powers are exercised under The Removal and Disposal of Vehicles (Traffic Officers) (England) Regulations 2008' SI 2008 No.2367
3. 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.
4. Huddersfield-based FMG Support was appointed National Vehicle Recovery Manager last October to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for Traffic Officers needing to get broken down, abandoned or damaged vehicles removed from the motorway network by utilising its network of contracts with vehicle recovery operators across England.
5. About FMG Support: FMG Support is the UK's largest independent fleet performance improvement company and has been operating since 1986.
• Its key service areas are Fleet Incident Management and Roadside Repair and Recovery Management.
• FMG Support has a UK-wide network of supply partners and national customers including Royal Mail, Carlsberg and the Highways Agency.
• The company employs around 360 people and has an annual turnover of over £70m.
• In March 2008, the FMG Support Board secured a £multimillion investment from private equity firm Aberdeen Asset Management to fund further market growth and innovation.
6. More information about the National Vehicle Recovery Service and its launch of the in the South East in March is available at http://nds.coi.gov.uk/Content/detail.aspx?NewsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=394317&SubjectId=3
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department