With traditionally heavy Bank Holiday traffic expected on the road today, the Highways Agency has announced it is to help cars travel freely on the UK’s motorways by making their highway officers ‘undercover’.
The usually highly visible Highway Agency vehicles can be seen driving up and down the country’s motorway network, plodding along at 60mph, waiting for the opportunity to put out some cones or, on a really exciting day, close the road.
However in their pursuit to keep traffic jams moving through road-works at a steady pace, they tend slow it down needlessly by looking too much like police cars.
“A survey we carried out showed 90% of motorway users thought from a distance, our vehicles were traffic police cars and started braking to slow dow, before realising it was one of our powerless ‘road cone operatives’” a spokesman for the agency’s Harold depot told us.
“By making them undercover we hope to reduce the amount of slowing traffic, and the number of hand signals received by our staff as passing motorists realise they have spent the last 5 miles trying to avoid speeding past a couple of men in hi-viz jackets.”
Although the move has been welcomed by motoring groups, there has been some criticism from the Home Office.
Jacquie Smith said “these highways agency vehicles had the same effect as the cardboard police officers you have in some shops, they act as a momentary deterrent. Now they are going undercover, we may have to review our decision to cut all of the roads policing budget”.