The Role of a Traffic Officer


The purpose of the Traffic Officer Service is to undertake general traffic and road management tasks thus allowing the police greater time to concentrate on the protective services, such as tackling crime, investigating collisions and enforcing the law.

The Traffic Management Act 2004 (England and Wales) has enabled certain police powers to be transferred to Traffic Officers.

Those powers are to:

  • Stop traffic and close roads, lanes and carriageways;
  • Direct and divert traffic and pedestrians;
  • Place and operate traffic signs;
  • Manage traffic at traffic surveys. These involve stopping vehicles and asking drivers about their journeys. The information from these surveys is used to develop and plan future investment in the transport system;
  • Arranging the removal of abandoned or broken down vehicles which are causing an obstruction or are a safety hazard on the network; and
  • Authorising exceptions and relaxations for other road users from the motorway regulations, such as the use of the hard shoulder.

Traffic Officers do not have enforcement powers and their vehicles are not classed as emergency vehicles.

The role of the Traffic Officer is to deal with routine incidents including non injury Road Traffic Collisions (RTC’s) on the network and to assist the emergency services by dealing with traffic management at more serious incidents. In order to undertake these duties Traffic Officers are permitted to use red and amber warning lights, authorised under a special order of the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 44.

The service endeavors to minimise disruption to road users by providing a safe and timely response to incidents in order to manage traffic, assess on site requirements in terms of debris clearance and infrastructure damage/repairs, liaise with emergency services where necessary and relieve congestion as soon as possible.

The Traffic Officers take a primary role in the management of traffic, clearance of incidents and other non criminal activity.