There are some deluded factions of the motoring press that have loudly and ignorantly derided a very useful and miss-understood service that helps motorists in need and saves police time.
The motorway Traffic Officers are referred to by one loud mouthed buffoon as ‘wombles’, but they answer a long standing complaint made by hoards of motorists since the early days of motorways; why are police used to do non-police type work such as directing traffic round a crash site, staying with crash victims until help arrives, sweeping up debris off the motorway, putting out emergency signs and cones etc. The list goes on, there are a huge number of time consuming jobs that although important don’t really need an officer with the powers of arrest and a highly equipped patrol car.
For years drivers argued, mostly in pubs, that it would be far better to have someone else to do these tasks and free up the police to chase criminals. And that is exactly what the Traffic Officers were invented for, yes my friends this is a case of the government actually listening to the motoring public.
And it works too; a friend of mine was involved in an unfortunate incident when they managed to spin on a motorway slip road and ended up bouncing off both crash barriers before coming to a halt at 90 degrees to lane 1. Which is bad. The Traffic Officers arrived and immediately coned off the lane whist they pushed the wreck to a safe position, then after assessing the situation for safety they cleared up the debris and re-opened the lane very swiftly. The police arrived and took details, did a breath test and the usual checks but then were immediately free to move on to the next drama, meanwhile the TO stayed with my chum until the recovery truck arrived. They also notified the roads agency that the barrier needed mending. All in all a very efficient, helpful and potentially life saving service. What’s not to like?
Sometimes where people have been hurt they have to close the road to recover and record all the evidence which can seem like an unnecessary delay to the uninformed driver, and sometimes being better to be safe than sorry means that some delays do turn out to be unnecessary, but I for one would far rather they were reasonably cautious than risk my life.
Every time I see a TO parked up apparently doing nothing I breathe a sigh of relief that this indicates that this particular stretch of road has no problems, no one has crashed, no one is having an utterly miserable day, no one is dying, it’s damn good to see a dormant patrol car. And when I slowly crawl through a conned off incident I give a cheery waive to the TO directing the traffic and restoring order to the chaos behind them.
So why are they being lambasted in certain media circles? Probably due to a fine and heady mixture of making up a good storey, being controversial to sell more copy but mostly pig ignorance and stupidity. Just the usual then.