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1:00 PM 9th February 2020

Traffic Bulletin: Drivers Urged To Take Extra Care In High Winds

Highways England has extended its warning to drivers across England to take care and be prepared for strong gales on Sunday 9 February that have the potential to disrupt journeys across all regions.

The Met Office has issued amber warnings for the South East, East, North East, North West, South West and the Midlands for strong gales between 8am and 9pm on Sunday.

Road users, particularly drivers of high-sided HGVs, caravans and motorcycles, are advised to check the weather and driving conditions before setting out on journeys and pay particular attention to exposed locations such as coastal and high lying areas and bridges which could be affected by the high winds.

Strong winds will be widespread and last throughout most of Sunday. Gusts of 60 to 70mph are likely across many inland areas and around 80mph in exposed coastal areas. A spell of heavy rain will affect many regions for a time, making driving conditions particularly poor.

In addition, drivers in the East of England are advised that the Orwell Bridge on the A14 near Ipswich is currently closed and is expected to be closed for the rest of the day. The Dartford Crossing in Kent is also closed with traffic heading for Kent diverted through one of the tunnels. Wind speeds are being monitored and both bridges will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.

Highways England’s Head of Road Safety, Richard Leonard, said:
“We’re encouraging drivers to check the latest weather and travel conditions before setting off on journeys and consider if their journey is necessary and can be delayed until conditions improve. If you do intend to travel, then plan your journey and take extra care, allowing more time for your journey.

“In high winds, there’s a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes so we’d advise drivers of these vehicles to slow down.

“Drivers of other vehicles should be aware of sudden gusts of wind which can affect handling and braking, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, and motorbikes plenty of space. In the event of persistent high winds we may need to close bridges to traffic for a period, so please be alert for warnings of closures and follow signed diversion routes.”

People making journeys should drive with extra care, especially at exposed sections of the motorway network. Unladen curtain-sided vehicles are particularly vulnerable to windy conditions on high ground.

Richard Leonard added:
“Curtains on empty high-sided vehicles can act as sails when closed, and when high winds arise, we advise HGV drivers to open their curtain-sided vehicles if they are empty."

A Freight Transport Association advisory states:
“When driving an empty curtain-sided vehicle, tie both curtain sides at one end of the vehicle to reduce the effect of side winds”.

HGV drivers are advised by the DVSA to check load security as part of their daily walkaround check. Further details of the walk around check can be found on GOV.UK.

Road users are being advised to follow messages on any overhead signs and listen to radio updates. Further information can be found by visiting www.trafficengland.com or calling Highways England on 0300 123 5000.

More advice on driving in windy weather is available from the met office

Highways England is advising drivers to pay attention to messages on the overhead electronic signs and listen for radio updates. Further information can be found by visiting www.trafficengland.com, following the regional Highways England Twitter feeds, or by calling Highways England on 0300 123 5000. The latest weather forecast can be seen online at www.metoffice.gov.uk