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Reporting highway maintenance emergencies

Find out what a highways emergency is in Suffolk, what we need to know to assess the situation and who to contact about roads not managed by Suffolk Highways.

What is an emergency?

  • Manholes or gratings are missing, broken or collapsed
  • Damaged streetlights, traffic signals, lit bollards, lit signs
  • Fallen tree or branch blocking part or all the road or path
  • Debris, including mud, chemical and clinical waste
  • Diesel or oil spillages across the road
  • Extensive flooding resulting in road being impassable.
    This doesn't include burst pipes or water mains, which you need to contact Anglian Water
  • Large dead animals, for example cattle/deer/horse causing obstruction
  • Overhead cables fallen across the highway
  • Potholes (only potholes with a minimum diameter of 200mm and depth of 100mm on A roads and main distributor roads will be treated as a 2 working day repair)
  • Road signs and other street furniture damaged so they are a direct danger or obstruction to the travelling public, for example it's bent into the path of vehicles
  • Structure collapse, for example bridge, culvert, wall, fences, scaffolds, hoarding
  • Traffic signals including wires exposed, physical damage to column or red lamp

Call 0345 606 6171 to report a highways problem that poses an immediate danger to the public.

When you report an emergency give:

  • a description of the emergency (size or extent of 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 contact you if we need more information

We manage most roads in Suffolk, however we don't maintain:

  • private roads - these are the responsibility of their owner
  • trunk roads - problems with these roads should be reported to the National Highways Information Line
    on 0300 123 5000

Read our quick guide to find out information and details on highway emergencies.    Highway emergencies quick guide (PDF 183,KB).

If you'd like to read other guides similar to this, on highways topics such as cyclic drainage, visit our quick guides page.

Information we need about emergency situations

List of emergency situations
Emergency Information we need to assess the situation
Chemical spillage
  • What the chemical is (any details from the Hazchem plate on the vehicle)
  • How much has been spilled
  • Is it a drip or flowing water?
  • Is it close to a river, stream or ditch?
  • Name of the haulier (on the lorry)
Clinical waste spillage
  • Type of waste and what it is (information from labels or packaging that you can see)
  • If there are any hypodermic needles visible 
Dead animal(s) in road
  •  Type and size of animal
  • If the animal isn't causing an obstruction or potential danger and the road is still passable contact the district or borough council.
Debris in road
  •  What is the material and how much is there
Flooding on road
Missing, broken or collapsed manhole or grating cover on road
  • Is the cover on the highway? (if it's on private or district council land contact the owner of the property)
  • What has happened to manhole or grating cover
  • Type and size
  • Any markings on the cover (e.g. British Telecom, Anglian Water)  
Mud on road
  • Amount of mud
  • Length of road affected
  • Where has it come from (we are only responsible if it is causing a danger to the travelling public)
  • Any information on who has deposited the mud
Oil, diesel or paint spillage
  • What is the spilled material?
  • How big the spillage is
  • Length of road affected (e.g. whole road, one lane only)
  • Is it close to a river/stream/ditch
Fallen overhead cables
  • What kind of cables (electricity or telephone)
  • Are tangled in a tree branch
  • Location (e.g. across whole road, one lane only)
  • Only potholes with a minimum diameter of 200mm and depth of 100mm on A roads and main distributor roads will be treated as a 2 working day repair
  • Size and depth of the hole
  • Type of road the pothole is on (e.g. "A" or main distributor road) 
  • Location in the road (e.g. middle or edge of road)
Damaged road sign
  • Type of sign
  • Any details of the person who caused the damage
Damaged safety fences, guardrails or barriers
  • Only damaged safety fences on "A" roads and leading up to bridges should be reported as emergencies. This includes broken or sharp edges sticking into the road or pavement
  • In most cases fencing is owned by the adjacent property owner and shouldn't be reported to us unless the damage blocks the highway
Damaged street lights, lit bollards or lit signs

The following incidents should be reported as an emergency:

  • exposed electrical wires
  • 4 or more adjacent lights out
  • damaged columns, bollards, signs or lights
  • flasher units outside schools not working
  • belisha beacons at zebra crossings not working

Visit street lighting for more information.

Traffic accidents Road traffic accidents should be reported to the Police.
Damaged or faulty traffic signals
  • Type of traffic signal (e.g. pedestrian crossing, vehicle activated sign)
  • Visit traffic signals for more information.
Fallen tree or branches in road or path
  • Size of tree or branch
  • Is the road or path blocked? (If yes, is there an alternative route available?)
  • Is the road passable?
  • Has the location been made safe?
  • Has the tree fallen across or brought down electricity or telephone cables?
  • Is the tree on the ground or caught up in cables?
  • Any details of who owns the tree
Snow or ice on road

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