By Claire West
Drivers are being advised to check road conditions before they travel this evening (20 December) and tomorrow morning as weather warnings have been issued by the Met Office across the country.
There is a warning of low temperatures in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands, East Midlands and East of England.
There is a further warning of low temperatures and heavy snow in the South West, London, the South East and the South Midlands.
The Highways Agency's winter fleet will be out treating the strategic road network by spreading salt and ploughing lying snow, but we are advising drivers to take extra care. With exceptionally low temperatures, we are advising drivers to take extra care because of the risk of ice forming on road surfaces. We advise road users to be prepared with warm clothing and an emergency pack, which includes food and water, boots, de-icer, a torch, and a shovel in case of snow.
While salt is very effective at reducing the risk of ice formation, at very low temperatures there can be a risk of ice on road surfaces even when salt has been spread. Where roads have been treated, drivers are advised to pay particular care where local conditions such as road gradients, bends or overhanging trees mean there may be an increased risk of difficult driving conditions.
Drivers should take care around salt spreading vehicles and vehicles clearing snow and should only overtake if they can do so safely, without driving on any un-cleared snow. Winter service vehicles are performing essential work to help keep roads open and may be travelling at low speed. It can take ten times longer to stop when it is icy, so allow more room to slow down and stop. Avoid losing control of your vehicle because of wheel spin, by using the highest gear possible. Avoid sudden braking, acceleration and sharp turns.
The Highways Agency, which operates and maintains motorways and other strategic roads in England, is working closely with the Met Office to monitor weather conditions. Up-to-date information on road conditions on England's motorways and trunk roads is available on the Agency website at www.highways.gov.uk/traffic or by calling 0300 123 5000. For information on weather conditions, visit the Met Office website www.metoffice.gov.uk or listen to local radio.