Project: Safety Improvements for Breakdown, Recovery and Other Vulnerable Vehicles

Reference: S0514-V6

Last update: 10/10/2008 14:49:27


The objective of this project is to produce a report that identifies whether breakdown and recovery operators are at greater risk of being involved in an accident while working at an incident than other comparable services, such as the Police. The report will determine the causation factors involved in the accidents and comment on any common lighting/conspicuity issues that may be identified.


Breakdown and vehicle recovery operators are particularly concerned about the safety of their employees when working on the road network. One area they feel could be improved is the conspicuity of their vehicles when stationary and attending a breakdown, particularly on the hard shoulder of motorways or in the live lane of single carriageway roads.

The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (RVLR) permit flashing amber beacons to be fitted on breakdown vehicles and used in the immediate vicinity of an accident or breakdown or while drawing a broken down vehicle. The purpose of the beacons is to warn other drivers of the presence of the vehicle, however the recovery operators feel that the over use of amber beacons by other organisations has devalued the warning signal these provide and increased the risk to their workforce. Their preference is to use red alternating flashing lights in addition to amber when the vehicle is stationary. At present only the police and Highways Agency Traffic Officers (HATOs) may fit and use red flashing lights on their vehicles. The Highways Agency has restricted the use of these lights to times when their officers are working in the live carriageway on the motorway.

The Department is keen to reduce road injuries and recognises the concerns of the industry however before action can be taken there is a need to quantify the scale of any problem. Therefore research is necessary to determine whether the safety risk experienced by breakdown operators is disproportionate to that encountered by other organisations working in similar environments (e.g. the Police and HATOs), i.e. considering the time spent at the scene of an incident do recovery operators have proportionately more accidents than the police etc? It will also be required to determine whether accidents are generally due to poor conspicuity or other causes.


TRL Limited
Crowthorne House, Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3GA
+44 (0)1344 773131

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £91,601.00

Actual start date: 08 February 2006

Actual completion date: 31 July 2008


Conspicuity of Vehicles: Final Report
Author: M P Langham, N J Moberly and I M Rillie
Publication date: 31/07/2008