A NEW campaign will be launched in the North West tomorrow asking road users to play their part in keeping the region moving this winter.
The Highways Agency, which looks after England's motorways and major A roads, is ready to face severe weather over the next few months. It has carried out a survey of road users, which found more than half had encountered one or more types of severe weather in the previous year.
However almost half (48%) admitted they would not carry out any vehicle checks, even after hearing a severe weather warning, and just under a quarter (24%) would not change their journey plans.
More reassuringly, four out of 10 (43%) drivers said that, although they would continue their journey as planned, they would monitor conditions or take extra precautions.
Samantha Senior, Winter Service Manager for the Highways Agency's Area 10, which covers South Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire, said: "Although we're well prepared for winter, we want road users to play their part too. Not every journey is essential in severe weather, and our survey shows sometimes people head out without taking steps to avoid being caught out.
"So we are asking drivers to carry out simple vehicle checks before they set out, to carry a severe weather emergency kit in their vehicles, and monitor traffic and weather conditions. They should also plan their journeys by using our website, listening to DAB digital 'Traffic Radio' or local radio stations, or by calling our information line on 08457 50 40 30."
Martin Hobbs, Highways Agency's head of Severe Weather Strategy, said:
"Last February's severe weather was a tough test of our winter preparations. The Highways Agency was well prepared for the severe weather and working with central Government, was able to help a number of highways authorities experiencing difficulties with shortfalls in their salt levels.
"However we have learned lessons from that experience, and have strengthened our capability to face any future challenges. This year our new state-of-the-art winter vehicles are being used in more parts of the country, and since last winter we have reviewed our salt stock levels and taken action where needed to make sure we are ready."
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It's not just snow and ice but also strong winds, heavy rain and thick fog that can affect journeys. Forecasters from the Met Office are again working at the Highways Agency's National Traffic Control Centre to provide up-to-the-minute advice on weather conditions across the motorway and trunk road network.
Dick Porter, Met Office Forecaster at the Highways Agency's National Traffic Control Centre, said: "After exceptionally severe weather last year, especially during February, the Met Office is predicting mean temperatures to be above average this winter. However, sudden cold spells can catch drivers by surprise and drivers should always be prepared for spells of high winds, heavy rain or fog. The best way for travellers to anticipate and prepare for difficult driving conditions is by keeping up to date with the latest Met Office forecast."