National Highways teams working this Christmas to keep motorists from being “top to toe in tailbacks”
22 Dec 2023
National Highways teams are gearing up for this festive season.
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National Highways teams are gearing up to make sure motorists heading home for Christmas in the North West don’t end up “top to toe in tailbacks, with red lights all around” this festive season.
While festive songs, Christmas jumpers and loading presents into the car will be the order of day for many of us, frontline teams from the organisation responsible for running England’s major A-road and motorway network will be working around the clock over the festive period to help make sure any disruption is kept to a minimum.
Last year National Highways traffic officers attended almost 400 incidents on Christmas Day according to organisational data.
In the North West region, there were 63 incidents involving everything from vehicle breakdowns to animals on the network and even abandoned vehicles.
Grant Allan is a National Highways Traffic Officer and will be on shift this year on Christmas Day.
Grant is based at Samlesbury outstation and has vast experience patrolling some of the busiest roads in the North West such as the M62, M6 and M60.
Whenever there is an incident, Grant’s priorities are to keep people safe. He will also stop traffic to clear obstructions and spills, help remove broken-down vehicles, and support the police and other emergency services by managing road closures when there’s a serious accident.
“We sometimes see a surge of people travelling on the network on Christmas Day, so It’s crucial that we’re readily available for unexpected incidents.
“Helping people on the network always fills me with a sense of pride, but even more so during the festive period as people are often travelling to connect with their loved ones.
“One common challenge we regularly encounter is motorists running out of fuel. With limited fuel stations open on 25 December, we urge everyone to refuel their vehicles in preparation.
“Ensuring your journeys are safe also involves checking your tyres and having essentials like a warm coat and fluids on hand, especially in anticipation of the cold weather.
National Highways on-road traffic officers are often first on the scene in an incident. They work hand-in-hand with seven regional control centres.
Eight teams across the country respond to emergency calls, setting signs and signals and deploying resources where needed. They also liaise with the emergency services during incidents and provide live traffic updates via social media.
This year Grant and his traffic officer colleagues in the North West will be supported by National Highways Duty Operations Manager, Louise Boothman, who will be working in the North West Operations Centre in Warrington.
Louise has worked at National Highways for the past 17 years and says working Christmas say can be interesting and varied.
“Every day in this job is completely different, even on Christmas Day. I’ve worked on Christmas Day a few times, and in previous years major incidents have occurred.
“We understand how important it is that people can use the network on Christmas Day, as it connects us all to our friends and family. A road would never be closed willingly, but it’s important that we’re here to keep people safe if incidents occur.
“Our staff are on hand 24/7 and ready to respond to all eventualities to ensure everyone using out network gets to where they need safe and well.”