The future of smart motorways

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Stevie D
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Stevie D » Sat Jan 02, 2021 15:02

I'm not aware of any motorways or main roads that have had their hard shoulders "removed".
What has happened is that the hard shoulders on some key roads have been converted into part-time or full-time running lines ... because those roads were operating over their design capacity and could no longer cope with typical traffic levels, leading to congestion, unpredictable journey times, increased emissions and increased risk of accidents, because this was believed to be a better/cheaper/quicker option than buying additional land and carrying out the earthworks and other works needed to widen the formation by a lane.

And no, an Emergency Refuge Area is not the same as a lay-by that you would see on the A51. For a start, it is not a lay-by allowing drivers to stop for whatever reason they like. It is not a place to pull over and have a sandwich and a cup of soup from your thermos. It is not a place to let your child wander into the bushes for a wee. It is not a place for lorry drivers to take a tacho break. It is for emergency use only, meaning that it is used far less than a regular lay-by. And it is also equipped with a phone to the motorway control centre so that they can use the overhead signals to create a safe space in lane 1 for a vehicle to pull into, unlike a traditional lay-by where you just have to take a chance and lay down some rubber to pull out into 60mph traffic.
Last edited by EpicChef on Tue Feb 02, 2021 13:10, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by avtur » Sat Jan 02, 2021 15:40

I do think the decision suffered a great deal of influence from accountants or others involved in justifying the real cost of increasing the network capacity to meet ever-increasing demand.

I get the impression that while the hazards of introducing all lanes running and dynamic hard shoulders were probably identified it is the evaluation of risk where the process went wrong, with undue weight being given to the financial implications of different solutions to capacity problems.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Glenn A » Sat Jan 09, 2021 14:21

Micro The Maniac wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 09:45
Bryn666 wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 14:51
Also how are we giving people ever more "rights" without responsibility when you yourself have complained about lower speed limits and heavier enforcement taking away these "rights"?
I don't consider implementation details (speed limits) to be remotely comparable with "rights"

I have no problem with enforcement of sensible limits... what I object to is the arbitrary cutting of limits (especially where the existing limit is wildly ignored), often coupled with the installation of a camera - perhaps they could install the camera *without* cutting the limit. Equally, I have repeatedly supported the idea of lower speed limits in RESIDENTIAL areas.


Road policing is becoming a black/white camera-driven system, with no discretion... but cameras do not and cannot detect poor driving. Middle lane-hogging, tail-gating, "break-checking" etc etc

Marginally exceeding the speed limit, or the absence of hard-shoulder do not cause the (almost daily) collisions at the M3 junction with the M25... Poor driving standards (poor anticipation, late lane changes, failure to indicate) are to blame. Not HE.
You can't have your cake and eat it.
Who do you think I am? Macron?
It is, of course, cheaper to install a camera than pay two police in a specially equipped BMW to patrol a motorway. A camera might click someone driving at 120 mph and then send a summons to their address, presuming the car is theirs, but it can't give chase to the driver and then find he has a consignment of class A drugs in the boot. Also while a traffic cop might ignore someone doing 82 mph on a quiet motorway in good weather, the camera won't, and someone ends up with a fine and points.

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Keiji
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Keiji » Tue Jan 12, 2021 17:53

Just came across this video. Traffic Officers close the entire four-lane smart motorway for about 15 minutes to attend to a vehicle in lane one.

Why?

Can't they just allow traffic to flow in the remaining three lanes (or even just the rightmost two lanes if they need a bit of space!) like the overhead signs say..?

Smart motorway, not-so-smart officers?


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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by EpicChef » Tue Jan 12, 2021 18:20

Keiji wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 17:53
Just came across this video. Traffic Officers close the entire four-lane smart motorway for about 15 minutes to attend to a vehicle in lane one.

Why?

Can't they just allow traffic to flow in the remaining three lanes (or even just the rightmost two lanes if they need a bit of space!) like the overhead signs say..?

Smart motorway, not-so-smart officers?

I’ve seen, and been in, situations where traffic officers stop the flow of traffic when the message boards show lanes in which it is safe to continue.

This is a matter of communication between traffic officers and the Regional Control Center.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by jervi » Tue Jan 12, 2021 19:12

They are probably all to used to seeing drivers being distracted by a disabled vehicle being attended to and causing another incident while distracted. So stopping all traffic isn't a stupid idea, plus forcing everyone into 2 lanes from 4 may result in people cutting in from stationary traffic into moving traffic, again resulting in more incidents.

Although in the incident in the video it is hard to justify the length of time and the action the officers then took after that time. Surely the best thing to do in this situation is
1. Close all lanes (to stop the incidents above)
2. Check if the vehicle can be towed
3. Tow the vehicle to the next ERA, junction or hard shoulder, where it can be collected by their breakdown recovery.
4. Re-open all lanes (could be done while towing vehicle)

Surely that shouldn't take any longer than 3-4 mins

If vehicle cannot be towed, keep lane 1 closed, place out cones & beacons on.
Again, shouldn't take longer than 3-4 mins

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Bryn666 » Tue Jan 12, 2021 19:33

Glenn A wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 14:21
Micro The Maniac wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 09:45
Bryn666 wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 14:51
Also how are we giving people ever more "rights" without responsibility when you yourself have complained about lower speed limits and heavier enforcement taking away these "rights"?
I don't consider implementation details (speed limits) to be remotely comparable with "rights"

I have no problem with enforcement of sensible limits... what I object to is the arbitrary cutting of limits (especially where the existing limit is wildly ignored), often coupled with the installation of a camera - perhaps they could install the camera *without* cutting the limit. Equally, I have repeatedly supported the idea of lower speed limits in RESIDENTIAL areas.


Road policing is becoming a black/white camera-driven system, with no discretion... but cameras do not and cannot detect poor driving. Middle lane-hogging, tail-gating, "break-checking" etc etc

Marginally exceeding the speed limit, or the absence of hard-shoulder do not cause the (almost daily) collisions at the M3 junction with the M25... Poor driving standards (poor anticipation, late lane changes, failure to indicate) are to blame. Not HE.
You can't have your cake and eat it.
Who do you think I am? Macron?
It is, of course, cheaper to install a camera than pay two police in a specially equipped BMW to patrol a motorway. A camera might click someone driving at 120 mph and then send a summons to their address, presuming the car is theirs, but it can't give chase to the driver and then find he has a consignment of class A drugs in the boot. Also while a traffic cop might ignore someone doing 82 mph on a quiet motorway in good weather, the camera won't, and someone ends up with a fine and points.
It may not have occurred to you, but driving at 82mph in good weather on the motorway is still an offence.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by vlad » Tue Jan 12, 2021 20:02

Keiji wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 17:53
Just came across this video. Traffic Officers close the entire four-lane smart motorway for about 15 minutes to attend to a vehicle in lane one.
I think I'd prefer it that way.

One of the most worrying things I've ever done is driven on the M6 south of J19. Lane 1 was closed, apparently due to a breakdown in the live lane although I never saw the vehicle, and the other lanes were given a 40 limit. I was one of the few people who was obeying that - it was most unnerving dawdling along in lane 2 being passed on both sides by people doing double my speed. I was half expecting to be pulled for dangerous driving.
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Micro The Maniac
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Micro The Maniac » Wed Jan 13, 2021 06:35

Keiji wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 17:53
Anyone else notice that the car in Lane 1, just in front of HE's Womble, stayed in Lane 1, past the lane-change arrow, and STILL past the red X :o

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by KeithW » Wed Jan 13, 2021 08:51

Keiji wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 17:53
Just came across this video. Traffic Officers close the entire four-lane smart motorway for about 15 minutes to attend to a vehicle in lane one.

Why?

Can't they just allow traffic to flow in the remaining three lanes (or even just the rightmost two lanes if they need a bit of space!) like the overhead signs say..?

Smart motorway, not-so-smart officers?
In a word - safety

Recovering a stalled vehicle requires bringing in a recovery vehicle is dangerous because far too many people simply drive recklessly. Several roadside workers are killed every years by people who completely lack common sense and are interested in nothing but their own convenience. In 2016 that amounted to 103.

Example from 2018
https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/leicester-news/recovery-driver-killed-motorist-seriously-1688836 wrote: A roofer fell asleep at the wheel of his van when he crashed into the back of a recovery truck, killing the driver and seriously injuring a motorist, a court heard.

Ashley Wilkes, 28, veered off the M69 in Leicestershire and struck Christopher Hadland, who was securing a BMW onto his recovery truck on the hard shoulder.

Mr Hadland, 42, a married father-of-two, of Beaumont Leys, Leicester, died instantly as he was thrown across the northbound carriageway, at about 10am the morning of Tuesday October 10.

The driver of the broken-down BMW, Nicoleta Ciobanu, suffered a broken vertebrae in her back whilst sitting in the cab of the recovery truck.

Wilkes, of Springfield Road, Heathtown, Wolverhampton, was jailed for two years and banned from driving for six years.

He admitted causing Mr Hadland’s death by dangerous driving and injuring Ms Ciobanu by dangerous driving, between junction one, for the A5 at Hinckley and junction two, for Sapcote.

The public gallery was packed with Mr Hadland’s family and friends.
Many years ago (1968 ) while waiting to start my full time job at ICI I spent the summer riding along with my cousin on his breakdown truck, the stupidity of some drivers on the A1(M) and A19 was hard to imagine. There were several cases of broken down vehicles being rear ended and such high speed impacts spread debris over all the running lanes.

Imagine what is likely to happen if you drive into an area covered in debris and oil. I still have the occasional nightmare about the headless body sat in an MGB roadster that drove under an HGV on the A19, we found the head in the field.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by KeithW » Wed Jan 13, 2021 09:19

jervi wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 19:12
They are probably all to used to seeing drivers being distracted by a disabled vehicle being attended to and causing another incident while distracted. So stopping all traffic isn't a stupid idea, plus forcing everyone into 2 lanes from 4 may result in people cutting in from stationary traffic into moving traffic, again resulting in more incidents.

Although in the incident in the video it is hard to justify the length of time and the action the officers then took after that time. Surely the best thing to do in this situation is
1. Close all lanes (to stop the incidents above)
2. Check if the vehicle can be towed
3. Tow the vehicle to the next ERA, junction or hard shoulder, where it can be collected by their breakdown recovery.
4. Re-open all lanes (could be done while towing vehicle)

Surely that shouldn't take any longer than 3-4 mins

If vehicle cannot be towed, keep lane 1 closed, place out cones & beacons on.
Again, shouldn't take longer than 3-4 mins


So you think there will always be a recovery vehicle close enough to arrive on scene, hook the vehicle and remove it in 3 to 4 minutes ! That is unrealistic to say the least. How many such vehicles do you think there are hanging around ? It takes a recovery vehicle at least a minute to cover every mile to reach the scene !

Putting in cones and a beacon will require closing a min of 2 lanes while this is happing, lane 1 - broken down vehicle , lane 2 coned off, unfortunately as the video shows some drivers stay in the closed lane regardless of the signs and red cross so coning is extremely hazardous.

In the best case scenario if the nearest recovery vehicle is 10 miles away and traffic is light. That means at least 10 minutes is required to reach the scene, plus time to assess the options, hookup the vehicle and drive to the next exit, doing that in 20 minutes would be outstanding. The RAC and AA claim the average time to respond is between 40 and 60 minutes. If its an HGV that will take MUCH longer. A classic failure with HGV's is a failure of the braking system and that will leave it immobile with all brakes locked on.

Leaving a stalled vehicle in an ERA or on a hard shoulder is not an option if you have a recovery vehicle on hand.

From the point of view of the controllers in the first instance the only information they will have is that a vehicle is stopped in a running lane, priority number 1 is to prevent that from escalating into a multiple vehicle incident until police or highways officers arrive on scene.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Micro The Maniac » Wed Jan 13, 2021 09:30

KeithW wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 08:51
In a word - safety

Recovering a stalled vehicle requires bringing in a recovery vehicle is dangerous because far too many people simply drive recklessly. Several roadside workers are killed every years by people who completely lack common sense and are interested in nothing but their own convenience. In 2016 that amounted to 103.
While I absolutely agree with you, it is perhaps illuminating that many of the examples happened on the hard shoulder! But its rare to get even Lane 1 closed, never mind a full closure, for a hard-shoulder recovery.

I do wonder of we should adopt the US system... if a recovery vehicle is stopped (on the hard shoulder) and showing flashing ambers, that means keep Lane 1 clear, too.

As an aside, I've become quite addicted to Trucking Hell on Freeview, which shows what some of these guys and girls face!

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by A303Chris » Wed Jan 13, 2021 09:36

This is an interesting Freedom of Information request response from Highways England which provides a table showing the total number of speed cameras on smart motorways. Obviously the 2 on the M4 will go up when J3 to J12 is completed.

However, only 34 on the M25, so that's 17 each way , which is one about every 7 miles, a lot less than I thought. They must be the HADECS 3 and not the old ones across all four lanes between J7 and J23, which were on approximately every third gantry.

Also the FOI states
Currently, we are upgrading all our cameras to also record drivers that do not comply with a ‘Red X’, to indicate a closed lane.


Which hopefully will mean situations described above with HE Officers closing all four lanes will end, given points and a fine may get people to comply with a Red X
The M25 - The road to nowhere

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Ruperts Trooper » Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:05

KeithW wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 09:19
Leaving a stalled vehicle in an ERA or on a hard shoulder is not an option if you have a recovery vehicle on hand.
It depends on the recovery vehicle's capability - many 4wd vehicles with automatic transmission cannot be towed any significant distance and need recovery on a flatbed truck - the only exception would be to tow it at low speed a short distance onto the hard shoulder or ERA.

I don't know what present Highways policy is, but before the creation on HATO's the police motorway patrols would push/pull a stricken vehicle onto the hard shoulder to allow the running lanes back into use.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by KeithW » Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:50

Ruperts Trooper wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:05
KeithW wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 09:19
Leaving a stalled vehicle in an ERA or on a hard shoulder is not an option if you have a recovery vehicle on hand.
It depends on the recovery vehicle's capability - many 4wd vehicles with automatic transmission cannot be towed any significant distance and need recovery on a flatbed truck - the only exception would be to tow it at low speed a short distance onto the hard shoulder or ERA.

I don't know what present Highways policy is, but before the creation on HATO's the police motorway patrols would push/pull a stricken vehicle onto the hard shoulder to allow the running lanes back into use.

Sure its sensible to make a short stop in safe place in such circumstances but that is hardly the normal instance. I did point out that you need to assess the individual case before deciding final options. There is a distinct difference between a proper recovery vehicle and a van being used to attend routine breakdowns. The major recovery companies have flat and slide bed vehicles for just this reason. In fact using standard breakdown vans is to be avoided on high speed roads, as I already mentioned I was witness to a case where a driver went straight into the back of a car on the hard shoulder of the M1, priority number 1 is to get them to a place of safety and the hard shoulder is NOT a safe place.
https://www.rygor.co.uk/aa-recovery-pat ... enz-atego/

HATO patrols have been around for several years now and will indeed tow tow a vehicle to a safe place if possible. The reality is however that this is often not possible especially with HGV's any more than it could be cone with a police Range Rover.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Barkstar » Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:33

A303Chris wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 09:36
This is an interesting Freedom of Information request response from Highways England which provides a table showing the total number of speed cameras on smart motorways. Obviously the 2 on the M4 will go up when J3 to J12 is completed.

However, only 34 on the M25, so that's 17 each way , which is one about every 7 miles, a lot less than I thought. They must be the HADECS 3 and not the old ones across all four lanes between J7 and J23, which were on approximately every third gantry.

Also the FOI states
Currently, we are upgrading all our cameras to also record drivers that do not comply with a ‘Red X’, to indicate a closed lane.


Which hopefully will mean situations described above with HE Officers closing all four lanes will end, given points and a fine may get people to comply with a Red X
I noticed that they decided to leave out permanent average speed cameras. So in the end he got what he asked for but I'm not sure how helpful it is. This part of the response was interesting:
Can I point out that average speed enforcement systems are not used to enforce variable speed limits, which are used to support traffic management on these specific sections of motorways.
So do I take it there aren't average speed cameras in variable speed limit areas?

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by Ruperts Trooper » Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:40

KeithW wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:50
Ruperts Trooper wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 10:05
KeithW wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 09:19
Leaving a stalled vehicle in an ERA or on a hard shoulder is not an option if you have a recovery vehicle on hand.
It depends on the recovery vehicle's capability - many 4wd vehicles with automatic transmission cannot be towed any significant distance and need recovery on a flatbed truck - the only exception would be to tow it at low speed a short distance onto the hard shoulder or ERA.

I don't know what present Highways policy is, but before the creation on HATO's the police motorway patrols would push/pull a stricken vehicle onto the hard shoulder to allow the running lanes back into use.

Sure its sensible to make a short stop in safe place in such circumstances but that is hardly the normal instance. I did point out that you need to assess the individual case before deciding final options. There is a distinct difference between a proper recovery vehicle and a van being used to attend routine breakdowns. The major recovery companies have flat and slide bed vehicles for just this reason. In fact using standard breakdown vans is to be avoided on high speed roads, as I already mentioned I was witness to a case where a driver went straight into the back of a car on the hard shoulder of the M1, priority number 1 is to get them to a place of safety and the hard shoulder is NOT a safe place.
https://www.rygor.co.uk/aa-recovery-pat ... enz-atego/

HATO patrols have been around for several years now and will indeed tow tow a vehicle to a safe place if possible. The reality is however that this is often not possible especially with HGV's any more than it could be cone with a police Range Rover.
It could be done with police Range Rovers pushing HGVs, I'm reliably informed they used to - that's what the big rubber buffers were for on the front.
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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by KeithW » Wed Jan 13, 2021 13:05

Ruperts Trooper wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:40
It could be done with police Range Rovers pushing HGVs, I'm reliably informed they used to - that's what the big rubber buffers were for on the front.
Lots of luck pushing a 44 ton articulated lorry very far with a modern Range Rover. There is a reason that recovery companies such as Derek Crouch use rather large vehicles for that purpose.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by jervi » Wed Jan 13, 2021 14:04

KeithW wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 09:19
jervi wrote:
Tue Jan 12, 2021 19:12
They are probably all to used to seeing drivers being distracted by a disabled vehicle being attended to and causing another incident while distracted. So stopping all traffic isn't a stupid idea, plus forcing everyone into 2 lanes from 4 may result in people cutting in from stationary traffic into moving traffic, again resulting in more incidents.

Although in the incident in the video it is hard to justify the length of time and the action the officers then took after that time. Surely the best thing to do in this situation is
1. Close all lanes (to stop the incidents above)
2. Check if the vehicle can be towed
3. Tow the vehicle to the next ERA, junction or hard shoulder, where it can be collected by their breakdown recovery.
4. Re-open all lanes (could be done while towing vehicle)

Surely that shouldn't take any longer than 3-4 mins

If vehicle cannot be towed, keep lane 1 closed, place out cones & beacons on.
Again, shouldn't take longer than 3-4 mins


So you think there will always be a recovery vehicle close enough to arrive on scene, hook the vehicle and remove it in 3 to 4 minutes ! That is unrealistic to say the least. How many such vehicles do you think there are hanging around ? It takes a recovery vehicle at least a minute to cover every mile to reach the scene !

Putting in cones and a beacon will require closing a min of 2 lanes while this is happing, lane 1 - broken down vehicle , lane 2 coned off, unfortunately as the video shows some drivers stay in the closed lane regardless of the signs and red cross so coning is extremely hazardous.

In the best case scenario if the nearest recovery vehicle is 10 miles away and traffic is light. That means at least 10 minutes is required to reach the scene, plus time to assess the options, hookup the vehicle and drive to the next exit, doing that in 20 minutes would be outstanding. The RAC and AA claim the average time to respond is between 40 and 60 minutes. If its an HGV that will take MUCH longer. A classic failure with HGV's is a failure of the braking system and that will leave it immobile with all brakes locked on.

Leaving a stalled vehicle in an ERA or on a hard shoulder is not an option if you have a recovery vehicle on hand.

From the point of view of the controllers in the first instance the only information they will have is that a vehicle is stopped in a running lane, priority number 1 is to prevent that from escalating into a multiple vehicle incident until police or highways officers arrive on scene.
Didn't mention a recovery vehicle. HE Patrol vehicles are able to tow the majority of vehicles, including HGVs. Soon as they get them to an ERA (or next junction, Hard shoulder etc) then that is their job done. From there it is up to the vehicles driver to arrange recovery to whereever.

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Re: The future of smart motorways

Post by KeithW » Wed Jan 13, 2021 16:39

jervi wrote:
Wed Jan 13, 2021 14:04
Didn't mention a recovery vehicle. HE Patrol vehicles are able to tow the majority of vehicles, including HGVs. Soon as they get them to an ERA (or next junction, Hard shoulder etc) then that is their job done. From there it is up to the vehicles driver to arrange recovery to whereever.
Sorry but I think you are flat out wrong when it comes to HE Patrol vehicles towing HGV's. If you are towing a stalled HGV at the least you must be able to run an air line to stop the brakes coming on. HE Patrol vehicles simply dont have that capability. You would also have to take out the half shaft to stop the wheels turning the gearbox with no lubrication. Last but far from least the vehicles they drive are neither equipped for or rated for that. At the most a HE Patrol Vehicle will have a 50mm ball/Nato hitch and tow bar suitable for removing cars and caravans.

HE can call out a recovery vehicle but towing HGV's is just not on. This is the list of duties they are expected to perform

Coordinating the resources of the emergency services
Managing traffic to reduce incident related congestion
Clearing debris from the carriageways
Re-opening routes as soon as it is safe to do so
Support the police

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