Drivers Warned: Prepare For Winter

The Highways Agency, which looks after England's motorways and major A roads, is ready to face severe weather as we head into the winter months.

It's now asking road users in the South to play their part in keeping the nation moving. Research by the Highways Agency shows that 49% of drivers ignore severe weather warnings, while 29% of drivers do not prepare their vehicle for winter - potentially putting themselves and others at risk.

Meanwhile with predictions this winter will be a cold, icy one - the Highways Agency says they have around 23,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled for the major routes across Hampshire and Dorset. A spokesperson said:

"Last season in the south coast area we used around 9,000 tonnes and the year before that it was around 14,000, so we've got plenty this time around - not having enough really won't be an issue this winter."

They're also asking drivers to pack a 'winter bag' in their vehicles with them:

"For several years now we've been encouraging people to carry a winter bag with them - so fill it with things like a warm coat, some spare boots or wellies and a hat, maybe a spare change of clothing just in case you get stuck anywhere."

Meanwhile road users in Dorset and Hampshire are being reminded to take extra care this winter as the saturated ground means that water runoff from fields makes it more likely that rural roads will ice over during cold weather.

According to the Met Office, this summer has officially been the wettest in one hundred years and there appears to be no let up in rain as winter approaches. The Environment Agency has recently released a warning that, following further wet weather in September and October, rivers are full and the ground is saturated, with the result that current groundwater levels in some areas are extremely high and water is seeping onto Hampshire’s roads. Roads that would normally dry quickly after precipitation are more likely to remain wet and ice over when the road surface temperature drops below zero.

Councillor Mel Kendal, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Hampshire County Council said:

“Road users need to take extra care this winter because, due to the saturated ground, even a small amount of rain or snow means that roads are more likely to experience water running on to them which can easily ice over when the temperature freezes. We have recently experienced our first frosts of the winter and our salting teams have been out treating Hampshire’s main routes but, although temperatures may rise slightly in the days to come, drivers still need to take care as some roads may be covered with deep puddles.

“Hampshire County Council takes road safety extremely seriously and invests heavily to maintain and improve the 5,000 plus miles of road in the county. Keeping Hampshire Moving is a priority of the Council - the road network is a vital support for our regional economy and people need to be safe when going about their day-to-day business, whatever the weather. We have a long-term strategic programme of road maintenance and enhancement, Operation Resilience, which aims to make our roads more resilient to the damaging effects of weather extremes and increasing traffic levels, as well as to improve the overall condition of the roads.”