Fleet News

New severe weather alert service

A new system of alerts to warn drivers about severe weather conditions has been launched by the Highways Agency in partnership with the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and Road Haulage Association (RHA).

The Severe Weather Alert has been developed to help drivers decide if they should change their route or end their journey.

The system has been developed in response to the storms which hit the UK on 18 January 2007, when 48 goods vehicles were blown over on the major routes operated by the Highways Agency.

The new system will apply to England's motorways and major A roads.

It consists of an amber and a red weather alert depending on the severity of weather reports received by the Met Office.

The alerts will target specific stretches of the motorway and trunk road network in areas and regions where there is an absolute certainty that a severe weather event will occur.

The weather alert will be communicated via radio travel bulletins, the Highways Agency's Traffic Radio service available on DAB digital radio and the internet at www.trafficradio.org.uk, and through the FTA and RHA membership network.

An amber weather alert will advise drivers to take care because it is highly likely that traffic conditions will be affected by the weather and they should monitor traffic and travel radio bulletins.

A red weather alert will only be issued in exceptional circumstances when the weather becomes so severe that journeys would be affected by incidents on the Highway Agency's road network.

During a red weather alert, drivers of goods vehicles will be asked to leave the network immediately and find a safe place to park.

Traffic Operations Director for the Highways Agency, Derek Turner said: "We are very aware how severe weather such as high winds or snow can affect driving conditions.

"The Alert Status is a further measure we are taking to improve the reliability of our roads for all users.

"It is a result of the close working relationship that we have with both the Freight Transport Association and the Road Haulage Association who helped us in designing and implementing the 'Alert Status' system."

Head of road network management policy at the FTA, Malcolm Bingham, said: "We strongly support this project to issue severe weather advice to the industry and we have worked with the Highways Agency to ensure that a robust and trusted service is set up to ensure goods vehicle operators are fully aware of the threat of severe weather.

"The industry recognises the danger of increased accidents and damage to vehicles and loads during the winter months and the Association believes that this advice to operators provides timely and critical warnings of extreme conditions on the trunk road and motorway network".

Chief executive of the RHA, Roger King, said: "The professional haulage sector has an outstanding record of keeping shops and businesses supplied in good weather and in bad.

"This severe weather alert system is a timely support for drivers and employers, acknowledging the work they do and reinforcing best practice. We urge all drivers to look at the information available and take note of the alerts."

Leaflets and handy credit card sized information is being distributed to drivers to raise awareness of the alert status and to explain how the system will work.



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