Bad directions? Concerns raised over Govt traffic management guidance

Dominic Browne

Dominic Browne reports on delays and safety critical concerns within the sector regarding traffic management guidance documents released by the Department for Transport.

After coming out in 2016, years late, and having many mistakes within it, which have since been corrected (see Highways December 2017), the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) has caused the sector a few headaches.

Now practitioners have raised concerns about its accompanying guidance, namely the Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 8, Part 3.

As Highways has reported previously, despite the industry seeing this guidance as a supportive document to the statutory TSRGD, two years after its release the updated manual is still yet to be published. A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport (DfT) has told Highways: ‘We will publish the draft Chapters of the Traffic Signs Manual in due course. In the meantime, some advice on the changes made in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 is available in the DfT Circular published alongside them.’ 

On top of this, Highways understands that the only section to be published so far, Chapter 8, Part 3, caused so much consternation in the sector it effectively had to be withdrawn after practitioners refused to recognise its recommendations. The section was apparently released without consultation with the industry. It contains operational guidance that has raised serious concerns. The chapter is available online but is not available from Her Majesty’s Stationary Office. The document is currently undergoing a rewrite after traffic management contractors raised a variety of issues including safety concerns.

The Traffic Signs and Markings Technical Working Party, which includes the DfT, Highways England, the Traffic Management Contractors Association (TMCA) and other industry bodies, meets twice a year to discuss these topics and there appears to be some debate over how best to proceed. Highways understands that time pressures have complicated the situation.

According to Grahame Beswick, chairman of the TMCA, the original Highways England/DfT document contained recommendations that would have necessitated workers crossing a live carriageway on foot, a practice that was removed from the industry years ago.

Verge-only signage, rather than verge and central reservation, is recognised industry best practice and dates back to at least December 2011 with the publication of IAN150/11, as well being pushed by a number of contractors and traffic management companies, including Mr Beswick’s company, H W Martin, and Chevron.

Mr Beswick said Highways England and the DfT had since worked with TRL to carry out a consultation on the document to address industry concerns. He also highlighted that while in England, Scotland and Wales the document is only advisory, in Northern Ireland it is subsumed within the TSRGD and is statutory, effectively removing the opportunity to adopt some best practice techniques.

He said: ‘TMCA has always said we will assist Government and Highways England. We have not seen any proposed revisions to the documents or a new draft, though we expect it to be out soon. We hope that we have been listened to us because this is a safety critical issue.

‘The original chapter appeared to contain sections out of context, ambiguities and errors. It did not tell us to cross the live carriageway but to carry out the recommendations workers would have had to.’

The ongoing heated debate over the guidance between Highways England, which is responsible for writing the document, the DfT, which has to approve it, and contractors is however set to be resolved by the end of the year.

Mr Beswick told Highways that trials have been done on verge-only signage using cameras attached to signs. The research clearly showed that driver behaviour does not change.

A spokesperson for Highways England said: ‘We have been working with industry to review the requirements for signage, cones and other traffic management associated with roadworks.

‘We are exploring how we could introduce a greater level of flexibility in our guidance so disruption to drivers is kept to minimum without compromising the safety either of our workforce or road users who rely on our roads every day.

‘Having sought feedback from suppliers and the industry on our first draft of the proposed guidance, we are now reviewing the feedback with a view to finalising any changes by the end of the year.’

Highways jobs

Waste Projects Officer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£29,738 - £36,036 depending on skills
Do you have skills and experience relevant to local authorities, waste management and/or managing projects? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Environmental Health Officer (Environmental Protection)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£33,799 - £35,934
This role is in the Pollution and Noise Control team, leading the Majors and Project Support team... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Project/Programme Manager (Construction) - 4 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£42,683 - £44,632
This is an exciting and challenging time and we want to expand our team to manage and deliver construction related projects, to achieve... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Community Environmental Support Officer x 5 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £21,166
You will work as part of a team tackling personal, nuisance and environmental anti-social behaviour to improve the quality of life for... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Environmental Health Officers within Environmental Protection, Health and Safety and Food Safety

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£30,507 - £32,878
We expect candidates to have expertise or qualifications in one or more of the relevant areas of Air Quality, Acoustics and/or Contaminated Land. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Assistant Director

Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council
£92,826 - £111,231
This is an ideal opportunity for an expert waste management professional to make a real impact and to lead the service to outstanding. Fulham, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council

Environmental Health Officer and Grad EHO – Private Sector Housing with benefits*

Camden London Borough Council
£33,122 - £42,490
Exciting opportunity for a highly organised and enthusiastic Environment Health Officer or a newly qualified graduate working towards... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Director of Inclusive Growth and Public Sector Reform

West Midlands Combined Authority
The role requires someone with a talent for innovation and a passion for designing and implementing public services. West Midlands Region
Recruiter: West Midlands Combined Authority

Vehicle Technician x3

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,313 - £28,785 per annum
All Candidates must hold a clean category C driving licence (CPC not required). Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Ugobus Driver (multiple positions)

Essex County Council
Up to £18938.0 per annum
Primary locations will include Clacton and Harlow only. Please note that we have permanent, fixed term and relief contract opportunities on a part tim England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Corporate Director of Neighbourhoods and Climate Change

Durham County Council
You will manage a range of front-line services including bins and waste, transport, environmental health, technical services, partnerships and... Durham (County)
Recruiter: Durham County Council

Tenancy Enforcement Assistant

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£22.377 - £23.607
Looking for individuals who have an interest in the environment with good customer service skills, flexible approach to work and a good team player. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Head of Programme Management Office

Manchester City Council
£60,857 to £65,865
As the Head of PMO, you will define and maintain standards for project management within the Highways Service. Manchester, Greater Manchester
Recruiter: Manchester City Council

Highways Development Specialist

Manchester City Council
£60,857 to £65,865
Seeking a highly capable strategic leader to join the team to develop our strategic pipeline of works and financial model. Manchester, Greater Manchester
Recruiter: Manchester City Council

Civil Engineering Technician Apprentice

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£214 per week
Are you looking to gain vital work experience as an Apprentice? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Assistant Planner/Planner

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £32,878
The ideal candidate will already have... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Principal Engineer

Liverpool City Council
£37,849 - £42,683
The successful candidate will... Liverpool, Merseyside
Recruiter: Liverpool City Council

Environmental Health Officer (Food, Health & Safety) & Environmental Health Technical Officer

Dacorum Borough Council
£24,710 to £39,034
You will be highly motivated and be expected to deliver against a challenging work plan. London (Greater)
Recruiter: Dacorum Borough Council

Director of Public Health

Worcestershire County Council
Competitive Salary
We’ll look to you to take responsibility for the high-calibre delivery of... Worcestershire
Recruiter: Worcestershire County Council

Street Cleansing Operative Driver (Large Goods Vehicles)

Redbridge London Borough Council
£22,377 to £23,607
We are looking to recruit staff for both our day service and evening service. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue
  • Highways England at Westminster
  • Traffex Scotland and Bridges Scotland guide
  • Highways Awards winners
View the latest issue

Latest Video