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Guidance Bulletin 28

SEEING RED! Use of portable traffic signals

Traffic light warning sign

When using temporary portable traffic lights to control traffic during works there are several DO'S and DON'T'S to follow and consider before you start using them, during their use and when you have finished the works

BEFORE Work Starts

  • DO apply for approval for all temporary traffic signals over 2 way - use standard forms provided by HA or the functionality of Street Manager (England Only) confirming by telephone or email.
  • DO notify the HA of the use of 2-way traffic lights – always on the Permit / Notice using the functionality of Street Manager (England Only) or any agreed forms that may be in place (If unsure check with HA or Street Works Team).
  • DO check that traffic lights are actually required and not used as a default TTM method.
  • DO provide clear instructions regarding site set up and management INCLUDING any Permit Conditions that may have been applied as part of any permit application (England only).
  • DON'T use any temporary traffic lights without first notifying the Highway Authority even out of hours.
  • DON'T set up 3 or 4-way lights without written approval from the HA for their use or in the case of emergencies verbal approval from an authorised person. IT MAY BE AN OFFENCE TO DO SO.
  • DON'T assume traffic lights are the only method suitable for traffic control.


  • DO make sure that a copy of any approval for 3 & 4-way lights is available for inspection on site.
  • DO check that lights delivered and set up are done so correctly and are fit for purpose.
  • DO inform the office and the HA if the situation changes and traffic lights are required where they previously were not IN England you may have to vary any permit application with any update to Traffic Management.
  • DO check that any temporary traffic signals are set to Vehicle Actuated (VA) BEFORE commencing operation.
  • DO schedule temporary traffic signals to be checked at least every 24hrs.
  • DO check that the operating box is secure and tamper proof before leaving site.
  • DON'T set up or use temporary traffic signals if you have not been trained in their use, refer to your supervisor.
  • DON'T set up temporary traffic signals of more than three heads unless you are qualified to do so.
  • DON'T interfere with temporary traffic signals set up by others unless qualified and approved to do so.


  • DO Inform HA once lights have been removed.
  • DO check that ALL signs are removed from site.
  • DON'T leave temporary lights up for longer than required especially if works have been completed.

HAUC(UK) thanks Morrison Water Services in their help in the creation of this guidance.

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