Highways Agency traffic officers could be able to remove broken down and abandoned vehicles from England’s busiest roads under new plans to free up police time.
Currently, only police officers have the power to get rid of vehicles that are illegally, obstructively, or dangerously parked on the country’s strategic road network, which includes motorways and major A-roads.
If the owner can’t make arrangements to have the vehicle removed privately, police can currently charge a flat rate of £105 for removal, £12 a day for storage, and an extra £50 if the vehicle is to be destroyed.
Traffic officer powers
New rules, which were laid before parliament this week, would give traffic officers similar powers.
Derek Turner, the Highways Agency’s director of network operations, said: ‘Giving our traffic officers these new powers was always envisaged to complement the work they are already doing around the clock to improve safety and reliability on our motorways’.
But a policy change also means motorists face higher charges for the removal and storage of their vehicles if they can’t make alternative arrangements.
Higher removal charges
From 1 October 2008, the lowest statutory charge for the removal of a vehicle weighing less than 3.5 tonnes will be £150.
Costs then rise depending on the weight and condition of the vehicle, with a maximum charge of £6,000 for badly damaged vehicles weighing more than 18 tonnes.
The Home Office said current statutory removal rates were set in 1993, and that they no longer reflect the different costs that may be incurred by vehicle recovery agents.
Police will retain their powers to remove and dispose of vehicles but it is hoped the extension of similar powers to traffic officers will free up police time.
The Highways Agency said it supports road rescue organisations, as these provide the vast majority of vehicle removals from carriageways and hard shoulders.
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