Public Events - Traffic management guidance for event promoters
We have produced these guidance notes in consultation with Hampshire’s district councils, Hampshire Constabulary and local event promoters.
Our aim is to help event promoters plan their events to minimise disruption to traffic and maximise traffic safety. It also gives guidance on how to get road closures, road signing for events and preparing effective traffic management plans.
The information in this document complements the advice in the document "Good Practice Safety Guide: for small and sporting events taking place on the highway, roads and public places" published by the Home Office. Event promoters are encouraged to look at this document (see Appendix Four for web link).
Events, both on and off the highway are an important part of the community. However, they can also cause significant traffic disruption on both the local and wider road networks. It is therefore important that they are carefully planned to minimise traffic congestion and risks to safety on the highway. This guidance will assist in helping an event promoter to identify potential traffic problems and provides advice on how to avoid them.
Impact on residents, local businesses and the road network
Events should always be timed to avoid clashing with peak traffic times. Wherever possible, on-highway events, such as triathlons should be arranged to be undertaken on private land (with the permission of the landowner), or away from busy roads and with as few right turns as possible. Running races should also be planned to make use of footways.
Events should be planned to ensure that access to local residents, businesses and buildings is not compromised. The event organiser should advise and discuss with local representatives to ensure that the local community is aware of the event and that their concerns are addressed.
The event promoter should consult with the Highways Agency where their event is near a motorway or trunk road or their junctions. The Highways Agency should also be consulted if traffic on motorways or trunk roads, or their junctions, is likely to be affected by an event.
Traffic control and signing at events
The public have no lawful powers to direct traffic at planned events. However, Hampshire Constabulary operate a scheme whereby event promoters may obtain accreditation for staff to direct traffic for events. Accredited staff can then direct traffic on the public highway in strict accordance with the traffic management plan for that event. Further information on the Hampshire Constabulary scheme:
Community Safety Accreditation Scheme
Directing or control of traffic can also be achieved by the use of signs and most events will require signing of some sort, either to advise traffic of closures and diversion routes, changes to road circumstances or to help in minimising traffic disruption.
Signs used as part of a closure, for example for the actual closure and the diversion route, will be authorised by the organisation approving the closure. Details of signs used where no closure is needed (such as signs on the highway advising traffic of unexpected hazards or which lane to be in for people attending the event) should be sent to the traffic authority for comment and advice.
Advance signage should also be considered to advise motorists of upcoming events so that they can plan alternate routes. Such signs should only include the key information and be set up no more than one week before the event.
Once the use of signs has been decided the event promoter should create a sign schedule clearly listing the following;:
- location of each sign
- type of each sign
- time / date of placement and removal
- sequence of placement and removal
- frequency of any inspection. (if needed)
- time / date of removal
- competency details of persons placing, maintaining and removing signs.
Signs attached to lamp or sign columns can damage the protective paintwork which could then lead to more serous damage to the column itself. Therefore permission needs to be obtained from the local County Council highways office prior to attaching signs to columns. Permission is highly unlikely to be withheld, but specific methods of affixing the signs may be required.
For larger events the event promoter may wish to consider the use of portable ‘variable message signs’ which can be hired from traffic management companies. Such equipment can provide up to date information for traffic and is especially useful where unplanned incidents adversely affect traffic in the vicinity of an event.
Road Closures and Diversion Routes
As road closures cause disruption to drivers, pedestrians, residents and businesses, they should only be considered if absolutely necessary.
Closing a public road, footway, footpath or verge without a lawful closure order is illegal.
If an event cannot be run without a road closure, then event promoters are advised to consider the following factors in the earliest planning stages:
- Do you have enough resources to procure and maintain the signs needed?
- Are your staff competent/trained to place, maintain and remove signs?
- Have you applied for and received permission for the closure from the district council or traffic authority?
- Have you consulted with local residents/businesses/organisations or local disability groups about the closure?
- Have you consulted with any local religious organisations as they may require access to buildings during the closure?
- What are the options for diversion routes? The traffic authority or the district council will ultimately decide what the diversion route is, but it helps to consider it at an early stage.
- Are there any motorways or major roads that might be affected? If so, a closure may well be refused or direction signing could be prohibitively expensive.
- Have you consulted with local bus companies and / or emergency services regarding the closure?
- Have you made any contingency plans for emergency access to your closure, for example to attend an accident?
- What plans are there to remove broken down vehicles from within the closure or the diversion routes?
- What plans have been made to avoid/remove vehicles already in place before the closure starts?
- What plans are there to enable businesses or residents to access their property within the closure?
- What training / briefings will be provided to event staff managing the closure?
See Appendix Two at the end of this note for information about the law governing road closures.
Pedestrians and public transport
The event promoter must consider alternative transport arrangements for people attending the event. Facilities should be considered to prevent pedestrians being dropped off on unsuitable verges, and safe pedestrian access via footpaths must also be considered.
Event organisers should plan for drop off points and access / arrangements for people arriving by public transport. It is strongly recommended that the event promoter encourages the use of public transport wherever possible. Shuttle buses and special arrangements with local public transport operators must be considered for events with large numbers of attendees.
Traffic and travel information for event attendees
The arrival times and modes of event attendees will be directly influenced by their knowledge of the local area and the information provided by the event organiser. Event organisers are encouraged to provide event attendees with as much information as possible in order for them to be able to plan their journeys. Details of public transport facilities should be provided, including any special arrangements made for the event. For well attended events it is recommended that event organisers encourage attendees to arrive over a long period.
Bicycle Time Trials and Races – Special Regulations
These events have specific regulations - the Cycle Racing on Highways Regulations 1960.
The regulations require the promoter to notify the police at least 28 days before the start of the event. For time trials if notice is given in accordance with these regulations the event is considered to be authorised. Less notice may be given, but this would be subject to police approval. For races no automatic authorisation exists. Permission from the police must be obtained before the event can go ahead.
The promoter is reminded that authorisation of the event does not remove the liability for safety or disruption, or the obtaining of any other authorisations, permits / closures etc.
Event promoters should prepare written plans for adverse weather, because it can significantly worsen the event’s impact on local traffic.
Promoters should have a plan for cancelling the event at short notice, with arrangements for contacting all organisations involved.
If wet weather is likely, promoters should also arrange to have equipment on site for clearing stranded vehicles from entries and exits and cleaning the public highway of mud. Equipment could include: tractors with towing hooks, road sweepers and tyre washes.
Wet weather is also likely to severely reduce ingress and egress rates to ‘off highway’ events and car parks. The event promoter should make alternative arrangements for maintaining optimum ingress and egress rates. For example; providing matting or hard-standing on fields for car parks or having additional access and egress points.
Traffic Management Meeting
Before the event, we strongly recommend that event promoters arrange a traffic management meeting. Those attending usually include:
- event promoter and their traffic management representative
- representative from the local district council
- representative from Hampshire County Council
- the police (Hampshire Constabulary)
Alternatively, after reviewing draft event plans, the district council, County Council or police may call a traffic management meeting.
At the meeting the event promoter will:
- brief attendees on the traffic matters relating to the event
- present a draft traffic management plan.
The organisations will:
- give advice on how to minimise traffic disruption and maximise traffic safety.
- help the event promoter plan the event more effectively and finalise the traffic management plan.
Depending on the size and nature of the event, other organisations may need to attend the meeting, such as:
- emergency services
- local special interest groups
- bus operators
- Highways Agency (if the event affects any motorways or trunk roads).
The meeting could be held as part of the Safety Advisory Group meetings that most district councils hold on a regular basis, or as a separate meeting.
A meeting after the event can sometimes help promoters highlight measures that worked well, and improve planning at future events.
Traffic Management Plan
We recommend that all events have a written Traffic Management (TM) plan as part of the overall event management plan.
The TM plan is a very useful document for everyone involved in managing an event because it:
- identifies traffic risks and actions taken by the promoter to minimise them
- provides invaluable information in case of an accident or incident.
In some cases, approvals for event licensing, road closures, or use of traffic signs may be conditional on the event promoter having a TM plan.
The size of a TM plan document will largely depend on the impact an event will have on the highway. Impact is not necessarily only determined by the size of the event. Other factors, such as the nature of the roads to be closed / affected will also have a significant effect. As a general rule, any event planned to take place on, or affect any road with a speed limit of 50mph or higher, or that is classified as an A or B road is likely to have a higher impact on traffic and will therefore require more detailed planning.
TM plans for a local fete or carnival may only run to a single page. TM plans for major events such as the Farnborough Air Show will consist of several volumes. However, in all cases, the same main issues must be covered although the detail and extent of coverage will be different.
The TM plan should include information on all or most of the following:
- contact details of the person responsible for traffic management
- contact details for other relevant organisations involved in traffic management.
Sign schedule, road closures, traffic lights
- roads to be closed and signed diversion routes
- a sign schedule
- any temporary traffic regulation orders made for example temporary speed limits, lifting of parking restrictions, temporary one-way systems
- any arrangements made with the traffic authority about the control of permanent traffic lights.
- Qualifications of those placing signs or directing traffic.
Estimate size of event
- The expected number of people and vehicles coming to the event T
- the anticipated arrival times and peak event traffic times.
Emergency procedures and bad weather contingency
- emergency access routes agreed with fire, police and ambulance services, together with details of how this route will be kept open
contingency arrangements for bad weather.
Parking and Public Transport
Number of parking spaces
Details of how parking and illegal parking, will be managed.
Details of drop off points and access for public transport
Impact on the Local Traffic Network
Details and agreements made in order to prevent congestion on the local and wider traffic network including information provided to attendees about travel and traffic.
Traffic related lessons learned from previous events
It is very useful to keep records of what worked well, and problems/risks to be aware of.
Summary of consultation and planningDetails and outcomes of consultations with all appropriate organisations and local groups for example;
Residents, businesses, religious groups & community associations
Local authorities, the police or the highway agency
Local disability groups
Local public transport operators.
Bunting, banners and decorative flags
Bunting, banners and flags are a traditional feature of sporting and other large events. Licencing of such decoration on or over the highway is managed by Hampshire County Council. The County Council has developed a licence to permit the hanging of bunting and flags on or over the highway:
When erecting bunting banners or flags please be aware of yours and others safety. Do not erect them where they will block access or sight lines. Also ensure that what you will be attaching them to is solid and secure. Never attach them to power or telephone cables. If you are attaching them to private property always ensure that you have the property owners permission. Care should also be taken when attaching them to lamp posts and signs to avoid obscuring the sign or damaging the protective paintwork.
Smoke from large bonfires may drift over roads and obscure drivers' and pedestrians' vision and potentially lead to accidents. It is essential that organisers of bonfire events take this risk into account in their risk assessment.
Costs in the event of promoter's failure to manage traffic safely
If the County Council is required to take action as a result of a failure by the event promoter to manage traffic safely, all reasonably costs incurred by the Authority may be recharged to the event promoter.
The event promoter should also take into account any further requirements, licences or permits that may be required, for example:
- trading on the highway.
- sale of alcohol.
- installation of any temporary structures.
These licences and permits are usually managed by the local district council.
Additional more detailed and technical information
- Appendix One - Rules on the placing of traffic signs
- Appendix Two - the law governing road closures
- Appendix Three - Duties Powers and Responsibilities
- Appendix Four - Useful references and resources
- Appendix Five - Safety Advisory Group Websites
Please note: the notes are for guidance only. The notes are not a statement of law and you should seek legal advice if necessary.