Highways England our latest traffic updates

FAQ

Traffic England is a free website available to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It is run by Highways England’s National Traffic Information Service. Highways England is responsible for the Strategic Road Network (SRN) which includes most of the motorways and major A-roads in England.

Traffic England's purpose is to help you to make informed decisions about your journey, by providing dynamic, up-to-date information about what is currently happening on the roads, and forecast traffic conditions. With Traffic England, you can see if there are any major delays on your route, and if so, you are able make decisions about your upcoming journey. This may mean you choose to travel at a different time or take a different route. You may also wish to consider other forms of transport.

The following information on the SRN is available:

  • Current and forecasted average speeds
  • Delays, incidents, congestion, roadworks, adverse weather, future events and future roadworks
  • Traffic camera images and roadside messages

This is a system of strategic routes of national importance that caters for the movement of long distance traffic. Highways England is responsible for the maintenance and operation of this network which includes most motorways and some major A-roads across England. You can view the Highways England network management map here.

Highways England collects data about traffic flows, speed and travel times on its road network. This is done using sensors on the roads and in vehicles.

We also collect information from our traffic officers and emergency services – this informs the estimated end-time of an incident that appears on the website. Roadworks data is taken from our maintenance schedules and we also consider the impact on traffic of weather using information from our weather stations.

It is then processed and published on Traffic England to help individuals and businesses plan their journeys.

The information is continually updated and is therefore the best information we have available of the current situation on the roads.

Sensors in vehicles include GPS devices fitted into vehicles or on mobile devices – such as those used by some freight and haulage companies.

These sensors provide sources of traffic data that are not fixed to the roadside and provide information about the location, speed, time and direction of travel.

  • All devices have to opt-in to the system, so we don’t collect data without permission.
  • It is important to note that our traffic data sources are anonymous; we don’t collect any personal or identifiable information about you.

We use all the data gathered by sensors to calculate an average time for traffic to travel over a section of the network (known as a link). This is called journey time and is re-calculated every minute. By using data from a series of links we can calculate an average time to travel between two fixed points, and it is this which is shown on Travel Time Message signs – ‘TO JX – Y MINS’

By averaging the data over a 6-week period we build up a picture of journey times, telling us what the typical traffic conditions are for that location at that time of day – this is called ‘profile journey time’.

Because we know the profile journey time of any link on the network, we can compare it to current data which tells us what is happening now. If current traffic conditions are slower than profile by a pre-defined parameter on any link, this is considered as congestion and a congestion event message will show on Traffic England. We use the term ‘delay’ within this event message, which also appears on roadside message signs. The delay is the extra time it takes to complete that journey.

For example: - Travelling from Junction x to Junction y usually takes 20 minutes (profile journey time).

Today it is taking 30 minutes (current journey time). This will be shown as a 10-minute delay on Traffic England and any roadside message signs.

Traffic England provides further information about incidents on Highways England's network. Definitions of some of the terms used are:

  • Delay (free flow) - The estimated impact on your journey if you could drive up to the speed limit.
  • Delay (profile) - The estimated impact on your journey compared to normal conditions for that time of day.
  • Time to clear - The time we estimate the incident to clear and all lanes to become available based on the type of incident and vehicles involved.
  • Return to normal - The time we estimate the road network to return to normal conditions for that time of day.

Highways England is responsible for the motorways and major A-Roads in England. Most other roads are managed by local authorities, unless the road is privately owned. Local authorities do hold traffic information, roadworks schedules and CCTV images which can often be viewed on their own websites.

If the road you are looking for is in Scotland, Wales or London please check Traffic Scotland, Traffic Wales or Transport for London (TFL) respectively. We provide links to all three on our map.

Lanes Closed

If an incident is closing lanes on the road the status of each lane is shown pictorially as per the above example.

The red X shows closed lanes and a white arrow is a lane which is open for traffic. The above example shows the inside and middle as closed and the outside lane as open, on a three lane stretch of road.

The number of lanes on the road is always represented, so a red X in every box means a road is completely closed. For ease you can edit your searches to only return incidents which are completely closing the road.

Traffic cameras are positioned at strategic locations across the trunk road network to provide an immediate view of the traffic and any incidents. These cameras are managed by operators in the National Traffic Operations Centre (NTOC) and Regional Operations Centre (ROC) control rooms. Images are stored for a short time centrally on our HANET servers and accessed by operators, emergency services and information services through the high speed dedicated National Road Telecommunication System (NRTS). Traffic England provides links to the latest camera images in the HANET database. Images are refreshed every 30 seconds and a new image can be obtained by clicking on the word "Refresh" in the pop up box. Only one image can be displayed at any one time.

The camera locations are not the same as the monitoring equipment which provides speed information. Hence these two sources can sometimes appear to provide different information. This is because the traffic conditions visible on a traffic camera are much localised, whereas the speed information is averaged across larger stretches of the road network.

Traffic cameras may be unavailable on Traffic England for a variety of reasons, these include;

  • The image is not suitable for display on a public service such as Traffic England. This can include distressing images, or data protection issues.
  • The camera is currently under the sole control of a high priority user, such as the Police or a Highways England operator to monitor a specific incident.
  • A technical fault

When this occurs, the Camera Unavailable/Fault message will appear in the pop up box instead of the image.

Check that pop-ups have been enabled in your Internet browser. This can usually be done by clicking the padlock at the top of the window.

The traffic camera images remain the property of Highways England. They are available to the public to allow accurate journey planning. Any abuse through excessive loading will affect the service performance and we reserve the right to act against such abuse.

Motorway Service Area (MSA) information on Traffic England gives a brief overview of the operating status of individual motorway service areas. If needed, further information can be found on the MSA operator’s website.

The Breaking News tab takes you to the Highways England website, which will display details of current traffic events which are severely affecting the SRN at that time. This can be (but is not limited to):

  • A total closure of any road on the SRN
  • Severe weather warnings
  • An incident that is blocking a lane(s) on one of our motorway/major A-roads causing above 60-minute delays.
  • Road/lane restrictions for vulnerable vehicles (heavy goods vehicles, motorbikes, caravans, etcetera)

You can also find traffic information through:

  • Highways England Twitter services, our mobile app and mobile website. Visit the Highways England Mobile Services page for more information.
  • RSS feeds – these enable you to keep up-to-date with any incidents by providing a news feed direct to your computer or website. - see help page
  • Local and national radio stations, who use information from Highways England and elsewhere for their traffic news bulletins.

You can find a list of planned road closures on the Highways England website.

If you wish to use a smartphone there is a mobile website and a mobile app available. Please visit the Highways England Mobile Services page for more information about options provided or visit our Mobile website.

If you have a general enquiry or question about the Traffic England website, please call our Information Line on 0300 123 5000 or e-mail us at info@highwaysengland.co.uk.

If you wish to let us know what you think of the Traffic England service, please use the "Feedback?" link available at the top of each page. You can also click on the green, orange and red ‘smiley’ feedback tab to leave any comments.

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