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Traffic officers operate on motorways and some primary routes in England and Wales. What are they authorised to do? Traffic officers operate on motorways and some primary routes in England and Wales. What are they authorised to do?

  • Possible answers:

  • A. Stop and arrest drivers who break the law

  • B. Repair broken-down vehicles on the motorway

  • C. Issue fixed penalty notices

  • D. Stop and direct anyone on a motorway


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How to become a Highways Agency Traffic Officer

Traffic officers have a diverse and interesting role within the police force. If you love driving and also fancy being a member of the police force, a Highways Agency Traffic Officer is a job that might be fulfilling for you. In fact, if you get to the pinnacle of this training, then you will be considered one of the highest performing emergency response drivers in the world as the UK system of training is lauded worldwide as the best.

Police officers learn the Roadcraft method of car control. This was developed back in 1935 when the first police driving school was established. It’s been updated and improved over the years with the input of thousands of advanced drivers, which means it’s unlikely to be changed in favour of a new system until fully or semi-autonomous pursuit cars become available (but that’s another story).

It’s very competitive to get a job as a traffic officer – hundreds of people apply a year, but jobs are advertised only a few times a year. You must have completed your 2-year probation in the police force before you can be considered.

The basic police driving course for police recruits is three weeks. This is called Standard A and it teaches basic skills required to operate a standard police vehicle.  The next level of training is Standard B and it vastly improves the officer’s driving skills. It lasts three weeks. If you want to engage in police pursuits there’s an additional three weeks of intense driver training, some of it at speeds in excess of 130mph on undivided roads. It is only available to traffic patrol officers.

Police driver training is conducted in and around Hendon in London and consists of:

What does a traffic officer do?

A traffic officer could be working anywhere from highly urbanised centres like the middle of London, through to sparsely populated rural areas such as the north-west of Scotland. The main facets of the job are:

Selection process

The application questionnaire is the first part of the selection process. There’s also a diversity questionnaire which isn’t compulsory. Send off your physical application form via courier or recorded delivery and make sure you are not late. You may be able to submit some forms online rather than send physical mail.

If you get through the first step you will be invited to attend a comprehensive assessment centre where you’ll be tested in different scenarios.

There are also checks for your nationality, qualifications, criminal record and health.

If you pass all these then you may receive an offer of appointment. This might not be for a job straight away as it will depend on whether there is a job available. You may have to wait a while and will be notified when a vacancy becomes available.

If you want to be a motorcycle officer then you will need to pass your motorcycle test.

If you are interested, then you first need to be accepted into police training. This page is a good place to start.

This video explains different roles within the police that call for driving, including response vehicles, personnel carrying vehicles, and roles used for protections.

This video is a commentary drive by a senior police officer attending an emergency. It demonstrates the style of driving and awareness that is needed when in this kind of situation, travelling at high speed through urban areas with slow traffic.