Impatient drivers put our traffic officers at risk


15 Mar 2024

Our traffic officers face danger every day on some of the fastest roads in the country

Impatient drivers put our traffic officers at risk

We share footage from traffic incidents with the police, so they can pursue prosecutions.

The introduction of body cameras for traffic officers, as well as vehicle cameras makes it easier to capture incidents of dangerous driving and abuse.

New videos show frightening incidents where traffic officers and road workers narrowly escape serious injury at the hands of dangerous drivers.

To coincide with Respect our Workforce week, we're sharing the videos to highlight the risks our road workers face. We're urging people to think carefully about their actions and the consequences that follow.

Having suffered two frightening near misses on the M6 in the West Midlands, Traffic Officer Michel Reitsma – known as Mickey - said:

“We don’t stop traffic for the sake of it, we are trying to keep the area safe. You are trying to do your job, trying to help people and protect them and there are some with a mindset to be abusive or behave recklessly. It is just not necessary.”

This video shows Mickey watching in shock as a vehicle disappears into the distance, past road workers in the carriageway. It had just ignored a road block and squeezed past him.

Mickey had stopped traffic at Spaghetti Junction as workers were in the carriageway repairing a pothole. An impatient driver ignored the road block and drove around the traffic officer vehicle – nearly hitting Mickey in the process as he was getting out of his car.

Mickey, based at the Bescot outstation, Walsall, said:

“Before getting out of my vehicle I first checked my mirror and the vehicle in question was still there. As I opened the door they came past. They had to squeeze between a wall and my vehicle and clipped the mirror – but it could have been me.”

On another occasion, near junction 10 (Walsall), Mickey was leading a rolling road block because of a broken down vehicle ahead. Again a driver broke free and got ahead of the traffic officer vehicle.

Mickey said:

“It was quite close to an exit slip so one person thought ‘this isn’t for me, I can get off’ and just pulled around me, around the road block, and drove off. It was so dangerous.”

He believes such dangerous incidents, and the abuse traffic officers receive, are getting worse. In the six years he has been a traffic officer he has been physically threatened or even attacked.

Watford Gap based Traffic officer, Pippa Barnes had to run to the verge to avoid being hit by a vehicle. She was attending an incident involving a broken down vehicle on the A45.

Pippa said: “The car was going really fast, around 70mph. They were coming towards my car and I thought ‘you are not going to make it’.

"The driver swerved at the last minute but hit a tanker instead, ripping her wing mirror off. She said she hadn’t seen our warning lights.”

Pippa added: “I am mindful, as all traffic officers are, of working in a live lane and what could happen.

“We do everything we can, we follow all of the rules around visibility. We put out signs and cones, we use signals and close lanes if we can.

“All we ask is that people are vigilant and realise that their journey isn’t always going to be straightforward, that things happen and there may be obstructions on the route. Think ahead, not just to the end of the bonnet.”

"The safety and wellbeing of our own workforce and our supply chain workers is an absolute priority. Anyone who puts that safety at risk either intentionally or carelessly should be aware that it will not be tolerated and we will work with police to take action against those who do so."
Mel Clarke, National Highways Director of Health, Safety and Wellbeing,