Start Rescue’s network of VROs (Vehicle Recovery Operators) provide an invaluable service in rescuing thousands of stranded motorists every year.
Out in all weathers, day and night, these rescue operatives really are the 4th emergency service.
To celebrate the work of these unsung heroes, Start Rescue shone the light on some of these Road Safety Heroes as part of Brake’s Road Safety Week, sharing some of their stories across the Start Rescue social media pages.
Operatives were kind enough to offer their opinions, thoughts and insights into what is it really like to work as a recovery operative within the breakdown industry.
Here’s an overview of some of the great insight that was gained:
With 31 years’ experience in vehicle recovery, Paul was destined to be a vehicle recovery operative from a very young age, His father ran a 24-hour breakdown service when he was very young, and such was Paul’s love of cars, his dad even built Paul his very own electric car for Christmas when he was three years of age!
Paul has unfortunately experienced first-hand, the perils the job can entail, which spurred him on to launch the Slow Down, Move Over’ campaign.
“In June 2016 one of my VROs was struck by a motorist when doing his job. He survived thankfully but it made me think about what our industry was doing in raising the awareness among the public, of what we do and the safety of VROs. So this is where I asked questions to the industry and created Slow Down Move Over UK for us to build an education to the public about unprotected road workers and broken down public. This has now been installed in the training programmes in our industry and recently it has been put into the highway code 264 for motorway awareness, which I feel is an amazing achievement.”
Despite the complexities of the role and the dangers VROs can face in undertaking their job, there is certainly a strong sense of passion and commitment for the job among our VROs we spoke with.
Another VRO of 20 years, Pierre highlighted the job satisfaction which comes from being a recovery operative: “The major positives of this role are the end-to-end job satisfaction, seeing a breakdown/recovery through to its end conclusion, as well as the variation of the type of work that will unexpectedly land on your computer which needs to be dealt with. I particularly enjoy being part of a reactive business and love those days where it is non-stop.
Our favourite quote for the day (well most days) is “Do it well and do it right”
Jason, who has also worked as a VRO for 20 years highlighted the diversity of the role; “Working as a VRO has many challenges and every day is different. You never know the type of job you will be attending next, from an easy vehicle movement or wheel change to an ambulance on its side.”
Being such a varied job, many VROs have stories of unusual or amusing recoveries that they have attended, as Terry noted: “A standout job for me besides the serious road traffic collisions, or the vehicles that need dragging out of dangerous locations, is when I attended a vehicle full of gospel singers on their way to a gospel singing competition. They were concerned they were not going to make it, but I managed to recover the vehicle and the passengers, and they even had some practice on the way! They were so thankful they still made it. Situations like this give fantastic job satisfaction.”
Meanwhile, in another recovery incident, Lee from Victoria Recovery, found himself more than just a road safety hero to his customer – but also a hero of the FA! He recalls “I was asked to attend a broken down vehicle on the M4 that had a ‘precious load on board.’ After placing them to safety, the member advised that ‘we must get to Wembley Stadium’ as in the boot of the car was the actual FA Cup that was needed by 4pm on this particular glorious Saturday afternoon to be handed to the FA Cup winning team. Let’s just say we just made it with minutes to spare!’
And not all VRO work entails roadside assistance as Faisal recollects: “We were once approached to assist in the positioning of a BMW MINI on the 1st floor of a department store in one short evening after closing time! I’d like to think that they came to us as they trusted our ability to do what was required safely, professionally, and quietly. An interesting evening and definitely not a normal VRO day!”
Our Vehicle Recovery Operators across the country risk their lives every day to help motorists stuck at the side of the road.
This is the very reason why Start Rescue was so keen to get involved in the promotion of Brake’s Road Safety Week, and why we are also proud to support the Slow Down Move Over campaign, which highlights the need to recognise the safety of roadside workers.
Many accidents and injuries on the road network are preventable and we all have a role to play in keeping the roads safer.
Figures from National Highways show that in 2019, vehicle defects due to underinflated, defective or illegal tyres were a contributory factor in almost half of accidents on the strategic road network .
As part of the Road Safety Week campaign, Start Rescue also took to sharing useful advice across social media on the steps you can take to make your journeys on the road safer, from checking your tyres, to how to keep yourself and your passengers safe in the event of a breakdown.
To view these stories or to keep up to date with the latest news from Start Rescue you can connect with Start Rescue at: