Further snow sparks Highways Agency warning to motorists

THE Highways Agency is advising drivers to be prepared for further wintry conditions today and the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Met Office forecasters based at the Highways Agency’s National Traffic Operations Centre say a second band of rain, sleet and snow is now affecting western parts of the country on higher routes, but snow is likely at lower levels as this moves east.

The Met Office is forecasting possible snowfall of 2-5 cm in parts of Yorkshire, the North East, the East Midlands and the East, with up to 15 cm possible on higher routes. Higher routes in the North West could also be affected. A severe weather alert is in place for these regions, though it has been stood down for other parts of the country.

The snow is expected to clear by Tuesday morning, though temperatures will still be low and there may be isolated snow showers in the east of the country.

Drivers are advised to check weather and traffic conditions before setting out on journeys.

The Highways Agency operates motorways and key trunk roads in England and has already been busy throughout the winter treating roads where necessary. It has a 500-strong fleet of salt spreaders and snowploughs available at depots around the country.

Steve Crosthwaite, head of the National Traffic Operations Centre, says: “We are using salt to treat the road network and have ploughs and snow blowers on standby if necessary. Our traffic officers are working around the clock to monitor our road network, deal with any incidents and keep traffic moving.

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“During severe winter weather we ask drivers to check road conditions and the weather forecast before setting out. If conditions are poor, and journeys are not essential, we advise drivers to think about delaying until conditions improve and allowing our winter fleet the chance to treat the roads.”

Drivers should check their local media for updated weather and travel advice before setting out on journeys. If they are travelling they should keep up to date with weather and travel advice, heed warnings and electronic message signs and drive according to the conditions - leaving extra time for journeys and extra room for braking and avoiding sudden manoeuvres such as braking or changing lanes suddenly. Incidents and breakdowns can prevent winter service vehicles from treating the roads, causing further problems.

Even where roads have been treated conditions can vary, especially in vulnerable locations such as where there are overhanging trees, hollows and exposed sections of road.

Information about a winter driving kit and other advice to help motorists be prepared for winter is on the Highways Agency website at highways.gov.uk/winter.

Up-to-date information on road conditions on England’s motorways and trunk roads is available on the Highways Agency website at highways.gov.uk/traffic or by calling the Highways Agency Information Line at 0300 123 5000.

Traffic information is available on Twitter by following one of eight regional channels with winter driving information on @winterhighways and on Facebook.