Use agreed operating procedures

Control Measure Knowledge

The SMART motorways and all lane running (ALR) motorways regional operating agreement (ROA) is a nationally agreed document that provides additional guidance on the preparations that a SMART or all lane running motorway undergoes in terms of infrastructure changes, along with guidance on specific collaboration and the activation of unique operating procedures in certain incidents. Examples are 100% camera coverage and the pre-planned use of reverse access (standard or dynamic).

Emergency response in normal traffic flow will be the initial and preferred approach to incidents. This entails approaching the incident from the rear using the reported carriageway and in the same normal direction of traffic flow.

On an all lane running (ALR) motorway, where traffic flows indicate that access can be achieved by travelling with the normal flow of traffic on the affected carriageway, the highways authority control centre will set red X lane closure signals to provide an access lane to the incident scene (as there is no hard shoulder for access). To encourage compliance, the red X is supplemented by a legend, for example, ‘Lane 1-3 closed – slow’, ‘Lane closure slow down’ or ‘Emergency vehicles on hard shoulder’. The access lane will be established well in advance of the incident and can be set back as far as the previous junction, or beyond, where necessary.

It should be noted that an incident scene may not specifically be within an all lane running (ALR) motorways section. However, access to the scene could be through an all lane running (ALR) section of motorway; this will require traffic to be managed using variable message signs and signals to provide an incident access lane, for example. This would also help deal with other emergencies in traffic on the all lane running (ALR) section.

If traffic is stationary, emergency responders should ease through the gaps in traffic queues (ideally between the offside lanes where parallel parked large goods vehicles are unlikely to be encountered) or through gaps created by motorists moving their vehicles.

Reverse access may be used when it is not possible to approach the scene of the incident from the rear; it allows vehicles to approach from the front of the incident safely and in a structured manner. In essence, the carriageway is turned into a two-way road, allowing emergency responders to get to and from the scene of operations.

There are two types of reverse access:

Standard reverse access

The following criteria should be considered before standard reverse access is implemented:

  • Criteria 1 – A police service, fire and rescue service or highways authority commander has control at the head of the scene. The most important and overriding requirement before reverse flow can be implemented is establishing a commander at the incident scene who can verify that no vehicles can pass the scene, and that any vehicles stopped after the scene remain stationary and will not move until instructed to do so. The commander will be responsible for co-ordinating all vehicle movements to and from the incident scene.
  • Criteria 2 – It has been confirmed that there are no vehicles between the incident scene and the chosen access point. Before emergency response vehicles can enter the carriageway from the access point, it is necessary to check there are no vehicles between the head of the incident scene and the access point. This can be achieved in a number of ways, including using CCTV, line of sight or a vehicle. If there are vehicles in an emergency refuge area the highways authority control centre will try to contact them to advise them not to leave.

To establish a commander at the incident, the police service and fire and rescue service may consider attending via the opposite, unaffected carriageway using their standard operating procedure for stopping in a ‘live’ carriageway. This should only be used in extreme circumstances to access the head of the incident, such as a known life risk, or to prevent a catastrophic escalation of events. Each emergency service will advise the highways authority control centre if their resources will be deployed to the unaffected carriageway. The highways authority control centre will use variable message signs and signals to support access to the incident from the unaffected carriageway, as directed by each emergency service.

For information, ambulance services should not, under any circumstances, stop their vehicles on the opposite carriageway unless the lane or carriageway is confirmed closed by highways authority or the police and scene safety has been established.

Dynamic reverse access

Dynamic reverse access may apply where the criteria above for implementing reverse access are not met and should only be considered in extreme circumstances, for example, known life risk or to prevent catastrophic escalation. Based on their own dynamic risk assessment and standard operating procedures, Emergency services may enter the carriageway to access the scene between the chosen access point and the incident.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions