Highway emergencies, including spillages on the highway

If you find a problem on the highway which you think requires urgent attention, please let us know by phoning our Customer Service Centre on 0845 6066171.

We provide a 24/7 response for highway emergencies on the public highway.  The public highway consists of any verge, footway, carriageway, bridleway or footpath whether or not maintained at public expense and over which the public has a right of way.    

If the emergency is on a trunk road (PDF, 79kb) please contact the Highways Agency Information Line.

Please provide as much information as possible, including:

  • Description of the emergency – the size or extent of the problem; when it happened and the current situation;
  • The location – e.g. outside No. 5 “The Street”, “somewhere town”, or road number and location;
  • Your name and telephone number – so we can call you back if we need to get more information.

Our staff will assess whether the situation as described to them presents an immediate potential danger to the travelling public and take appropriate action to make the situation safe. 

The following table gives examples of situations which could be regarded as emergencies, together with information which would help us assess and deal with reports of emergencies:

What has happened Information which will help us assess the situation
Chemicals on the highway
  • Any information on what the chemical is (from the Hazchem plate on the vehicle (toxic, corrosive, flammable?)
  • Quantity of material involved?
  • Drip or flowing?
  • Is it close to a river/stream/ditch?
  • Name of the haulier (on the lorry)?
Clinical waste on the highway
  • Any information on type of waste - syringes/tablets/liquids?
  • Are hypodermic needles visible?
  • Any information on what the waste is (from labels, packaging)?

Dangerous structures next to the highway e.g. walls, buildings, advertising hoardings

Contact the District or borough council
Dead animals on the highway Contact the District or borough council

Debris on the highway - significant amount of debris

likely to cause a danger to road users

  • What is the material?
  • Amount involved?
  • Any details of who caused the spillage?
  • Is it is likely to cause a danger to the travelling public, please call us.  If not, contact the District Council
Flooding Please see our flooding information
Manhole/grating covers (missing, broken or collapsed)
  • Is the cover on the highway (if it is on private/district council land please contact the owner of the property)
  • Is it broken or missing?
  • Many covers belong to private companies or district councils but most do have markings on them (e.g. BT refers to British Telecom, AW refers to Anglian Water)
Mud on the highway
  • Length of road affected?
  • Location of mud (e.g. across the whole road, one lane only)?
  • Any information on who deposited the mud?
  • We will deal with mud on the highway if there is a danger to the travelling public, but the person who deposited the mud is really responsible for cleaning the road.
Oil/diesel spillage
  • Length of road affected by the spillage?
  • Location of spillage (e.g. across the whole road, one lane only)?
  • Is it close to a river/stream/ditch
Overhead cables fallen across the highway
  • Are the cables electricity or telephone wires?
  • Are they tangled in tree branches?
  • Location (e.g. across the whole road, one lane only)?


  • size of hole (including depth)?
  • Road type e.g. A or other busy road or minor road?
  • Location in the road
Safety fences, guardrails and barriers

Damaged safety fences on A class roads and leading up to bridges should be reported as emergencies.  This includes broken or sharp edges protruding in to the road or pavement.

In most cases fencing is owned by the adjacent property owner and should not be reported to us unless the damage blocks the highway.

Sewage Refer to Anglian Water
Street lights, including zebra crossings, lit bollards, lit signs

Streetlights and other electrical equipment owned by us have a plastic plate giving a reference number and a contact telephone number.  Please supply the following details:

  • reference number
  • road name or number
  • town or parish
If you do not know the reference number, please give some other information such as a nearby house number. Please try to give as much information as possible about the fault, for example is there an intermittent fault or the light isn't working at all.
Traffic accidents Traffic accidents should be reported to the Police.
Trees (fallen branches/tree on the highway)
  • Size of branch or tree?
  • Does it present an immediate danger to the public?
  • Are power/telephone cables involved?
  • Is the road or path blocked?  If yes, is there an alternative route available?
  • Any information on who owns the tree (land owner)?
Winter maintenance (gritting/snow clearing) Please visit our salting, gritting and snow clearing page