According to research conducted by AutoExpress, motorists have forked out over £25 million under Highways England’s statutory removal rules during the last five years. Vehicle recovery numbers have also increased by one-third over the same period.
However, many motorists are unaware that the organisation even has the powers to recover their vehicles and charge them.
So, what is statutory removal, and what can drivers and members of the motor trade do to minimise the chances that they will fall foul of the regulations governing it?
Statutory Removal – What You Need to Know
Highways England is the agency responsible for managing and maintaining England’s A-roads and motorways.
If its traffic officers judge that a particular vehicle could obstruct or become dangerous for other road users, they can arrange for that vehicle to be recovered under the terms of the ‘2008 Removal and Disposal of Vehicles Regulations’.
Such recoveries are usually conducted by FMG Support, a private ‘for profit’ company that works with Highways England, and any vehicle involved will be taken to their compounds for storage.
The owner of the vehicle will be charged a recovery fee plus daily storage fee. Standard recovery fees tend to be in the region of £150 to £300. However, you may be charged more if your car is in a location or position that makes it more difficult to remove.
Heavier vehicles can also attract substantially higher charges. Storage fees can vary from £10 to £35 per day depending on the type of vehicle you own and, if you fail to collect your vehicle from the storage facility, you will also incur a disposal charge.
According to Auto Express, this is usually around £50 for a car but can be as much as £150 for a larger vehicle.
How Can You Reduce the Chances That You’ll Be Charged?
The Highways Agency do not detail the exact circumstances in which a traffic officer will seize a vehicle under the statutory removal regulations.
However, it is possible that they may remove your car if you have had an accident or broken down, and you do not have breakdown cover, or your recovery company is taking too long to arrive.
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That means that it is important to take out a motor insurance policy that includes the cover that you need.
Breakdown recovery insurance is not automatically included on vehicle insurance plans, so check your policy documents carefully and switch providers or take out additional cover if required.
While having breakdown recovery insurance does not guarantee that you will not face statutory removal charges, it will reduce the likelihood that your vehicle will be seized.
If your vehicle is well maintained, you will also be less likely to have an accident or break down.
This is particularly important in winter when additional problems, such as frozen engines or windscreen wipers, can arise. What is more, looking after your vehicle will help you to ensure that you do not invalidate your insurance policy.