Filming on location: traffic management tips

With credits including The Dark Knight, Saving Private Ryan and ITV's Mr Selfridge, On Set Traffic Management certainly know a thing or two about filming on location: they're the people hired by a production to ensure the safety of cast, crew and members of the public is paramount whenever road traffic needs to be controlled or completely closed off.

Using his 20-plus years' experience in the business, the company's owner, Bill Stanley, tells us about the guidelines production companies need to follow when filming requires road traffic assistance.

filming on the street Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images Entertainment 


Starting the TM process

  • When choosing a potential location, a member of the production or location team should contact the filming authority of the location's borough to discuss gaining permission for a traffic control.
  • The relevant film office will then liaise with the highways department who will provide the relevant application forms, including a traffic management (TM) application.
  • It's then the production company's job to hire a TM company, who will carry out a site visit at the chosen location to determine the traffic control layout in relation to the camera positions and shooting areas (NB it may be advisable to have a TM representative attend the technical recce).
  • When finding a TM service, it's recommended that you choose one that specialises in the film and TV industry.


Paperwork and timeframe

  • On completion of the site visit or technical recce, the TM company will provide your location department with the relevant paperwork, which includes a TM risk assessment and proof of insurance.
  • Bear in mind that the time frame and other stipulations for a traffic control application varies between boroughs.
  • If highways consider the location isn't suitable, they might be able to recommend an alternative.
  • The time frame for permission varies depending on the complexity of the location, or whether a road needs to be closed off completely.



  • The cost of submitting a TM application should be discussed with the borough film office or highways department.
  • Prices charged from one TM operator to another can vary, and so too may the detail within the service provided.


The shooting schedule

  • When all the relevant permissions are in place and you're ready to film, you should notify the TM company of your shooting schedule for the specific filming that requires traffic control.
  • Will there be any stunts involved? If so, the traffic officer should be made aware of this.
  • Crew and cast should also be made aware if filming is under the supervision of traffic control.

Communication on the day

  • The lead TM operative should have communication with the 1st AD to discuss matters such as traffic control point numbers and procedures in the event of an emergency.
  • Once this is established, the 1st AD can then relay the relevant information to the rest of the crew.


TM aren't security… 

  • It's important to establish a traffic management team does not replace security or assistants, so if they're not needed to assist traffic passing camera and crew or supervise/control traffic they should be relieved of their position until they're needed again.


  • TM operatives should be supplied with radios by the production company so they can communicate with key crew (such as the 1st AD).If there is more than one stop and go point, the lead operative should be supplied with two radios – one to communicate with the 1st AD and the other to speak to other TM operatives.Should a radio fail, it’s crucial that mobile contact numbers of operatives are listed on the call sheet.


Hi Vis jackets

  • If the crew are working near a highway, high visibility waistcoats to standard EN471 should be provided by production.


Filming at night

  • Additional lights might be required when filming at night to ensure stop points are clearly visible.TM control positions may have to be altered depending on the lack of daylight.

The above points are just some of the factors you need to consider when using traffic management. For further information, click here.