Highways Agency Statement

Some drivers were stuck on the M23 and A23 for 12 hours in ice and snow overnight. There were complaints the roads weren't gritted - this is the response from the Highways Agency.

We have been working throughout the night with our partners in the emergency services and local authorities to respond to hundreds of incidents which took place in heavy snow and strong winds on our network in Kent and Sussex.

We treated our roads continually throughout the afternoon and during the night, but a large number of incidents, including heavy goods vehicles breaking down on hills caused closures at several locations.

As a result, a number of our salt spreaders and recovery vehicles then became caught in the traffic.

Strong winds, gusting at speeds of up to 50 miles an hour created snow drifts of up to a metre in height, in many cases blowing snow back onto the carriageway as soon as it had been cleared.

As part of our emergency response, we used pre-positioned heavy recovery vehicles in six locations in the south east from 6pm onwards to help blockages on the roads.

In locations where blockages were cleared, we were able to dedicate gritting crews to specific stretches of road where the weather was at its worst and to get queuing traffic moving again.

The welfare of people caught in the queues behind road traffic incidents has been paramount and traffic officers and our colleagues in the emergency services have been making contact with people to ensure their well-being.

The Met Office is forecasting heavy snow will continue during the morning of Tuesday 12 March throughout Kent and Sussex.

Our crews will continue to work throughout the day to treat the network and respond to incidents with our partners.

The advice to drivers is therefore only to make journeys if they are absolutely essential and to check road conditions and the weather forecast before they set off.

We advise that they listen to travel bulletins on the radio and take a severe weather emergency kit including warm clothes, food, water, boots, a torch and spade for snow.

When driving in severe winter weather, drivers should leave enough distance between vehicles to stop safely. Incidents and breakdowns can prevent our winter service vehicles from treating the roads and cause further problems.

The position on the condition of our network is constantly changing.

However at the moment we are advising traffic heading north from the Dover Ports to take the M20 London bound and avoid the A2, and traffic heading in and around West Sussex especially on the A23 and M23 are also advised to avoid the areas if possible.

We are expecting that these disruptive weather conditions are likely to continue to cause problems well into the morning rush hour.