Several people have recently contacted me about roadside rescue and recovery vehicles and their use of warning lights.
As constituents may be aware, the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (RVLR) 1989 allow for the use of flashing or rotating amber warning beacons during recovery operations. The regulations also permit the use of an illuminated warning sign showing a steady light (red if to the rear of the vehicle, and white or yellow if towards the front of the vehicle). I believe that permitting the wider use of any restricted lighting function, including red flashing lights, needs careful consideration. This is because the warning message they are intended to give could become diluted if they are used too often.
However, I understand Ministers have asked officials to carry out a review of the available evidence in the context of existing policy on red flashing lights, and seek advice on whether a more flexible approach might be appropriate.
More widely, I know that work has been undertaken to enhance the safety of recovery operators providing roadside assistance. For example, recent collaboration between Highways England and the SURVIVE group (a partnership comprising the National Police Chiefs' Council, the breakdown/recovery industry, Highways England and other service providers) has led to the introduction of ten 'Overarching Rules' for recovery operators providing roadside assistance and repair services. These have been welcomed by all SURVIVE members.
In addition, SURVIVE's best practice guidelines have also been refreshed, covering communications and procedures for recovery on a smart motorway. New supporting materials have also been produced and have become an integral part of an enhanced training package shared across the recovery industry. Highways England has also worked with REACT, the national training arm for tyre fitters across England, who regularly operate on the strategic road network.