Q: Would you like the authority to deal (or 'pull and chat') with moving traffic violations such as lane hogging, rear fog-lights on, illegal number plates, overtaking on the inside etc?
A: We already have the authority to stop vehicles for defects/safety reasons. As for violations, our management wouldn't go for it as we could spend a lot of time in court instead of patrolling. We have enough staff to do the job, but we would be left short if we were in court all the time.
Q: What are your views on the national speed limits on the roads you patrol? Too high, too low, spot-on correct? If the limit for cars was set at 60mph, do you think there would be more or fewer accidents ? What about if it was set at 80mph? Or maybe you'd favour the German approach?
A: I've patrolled the autobahn. In my opinion, it's not the speed limit that’s the problem, it's incompetent drivers who don't drive to the conditions. I've seen RTCs on all manner of roads with varying speed limits. All I will say is they're out there and they drive among us.
Q: Why do you wear police-like uniforms, including in control centres?
AS: First and foremost, uniform saves a hell of a lot of money on clothes, and apart from socks and shoes is all provided free to the staff. News organisations are constantly wanting to film in the control rooms any time there is anything approaching any kind of weather or other similar disruption and MPs have a bad habit of turning up with the CEO, so it just looks more ‘professional’.
The Traffic Management Act that grants traffic officers their powers stipulates a uniformed officer so turning up in plain clothes would undoubtedly get questioned by any half-intelligent lawyer on occasions.
Q: Why all the temporary speed limits? Why all the motorway closures?
AS: The biggest frustration with the job is people assuming staff set speed limits and closures for the pure joy of annoying people. There are KPIs that govern everything, right down to how fast a log is created on the system and a patrol deployed. These KPIs directly influence the yearly pay awards and performance 'bonuses' so there is zero incentive for staff to leave signs on longer than the absolute minimum required.
A full motorway closure is really not taken lightly. These decisions can be made in the first instance by staff on the ground. However, ultimately full closures are usually only set for a small amount of things; potential suicide, RTC or spillage etc blocking all lanes that can’t be towed or mopped up, police investigating a serious/life changing/fatal RTC etc.
The scrutiny on the justification for full road closures all the way to the top and beyond is unbelievable.
Q: Do you get expenses for the motorway service station priced coffees etc?
We don't get expenses to buy coffee; the company provides free hot drinks at the station. We do get discounted food and drink at some services on production of a union card. This is something the union has negotiated with the services, and not HE.