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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Motorists urged to be vigilant following severe weather warning from MET Office

16/12/2011

Motorists are being urged to take extra care on Staffordshire’s roads following a severe weather warning from the MET Office.

"We want to ensure that people are staying as safe as possible on the roads, as winter brings additional risks and hazards."

Risk Reduction Manager David Steele

The county council’s gritting teams have been out in force spreading salt in the evening and early hours of the morning to make the roads as safe as possible.

But despite their best efforts, hazardous black ice can form, creating a significant but invisible danger for drivers.

Staffordshire’s Highways and Transport lead Mike Maryon is calling on motorists to be extra vigilant as the temperature plummets.

He said: "The gritting teams are doing an excellent job to ensure that Staffordshire’s roads are as safe as possible now that the weather is taking a turn for the worse.

"However, now the ice is beginning to take a grip, it is more important than ever for motorists to drive sensibly and safely. There have been reports of black ice, particularly in the north of the county, over the last few days and, even though you can’t necessarily see it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

"When the weather gets colder and more hazardous I would urge people to avoid driving if at all possible and to only make trips that are absolutely essential when the ice and frost hit the county. Wrap up in warm clothes and always let people know where you are going and what time you expect to be back."

Inspector Ian Hancock, from Staffordshire Police’s Road Policing Team, added: "Motorists should check weather forecasts before they set off and listen to local and national radio for travel information. 

"Staffordshire Police, like all other emergency services, deals with a high number of extra calls during inclement weather conditions and has to prioritise incidents. Our vehicles are affected by the weather conditions too, which, along with the volume of calls, may affect response times.

"People are asked to only dial 999 in an emergency and to be patient when the bad weather hits."  

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service Risk Reduction Manager David Steele said:"We want to ensure that people are staying as safe as possible on the roads, as winter brings additional risks and hazards.

"We do unfortunately tend to see an increase in road traffic collisions during the winter months, many of which can be avoided if people ensure their vehicles are fit-for-purpose and follow simple safety advice."

Staffordshire’s gritting lorries routinely grit 43 per cent of the priority road network – the national average is 35 per cent – in order to keep motorists on the move.

The high level of treatment puts Staffordshire in the top three local authorities for delivering winter roads action.

Staffordshire has bought 30,000 tonnes of grit for the second year running – that’s a 20 day supply running at full tilt.

The stockpile not only provides a significant buffer zone, it also means that the county is far less likely to have to pay excessive prices for salt shipped from abroad if the national supply runs low.

Two teams of 60 drivers are on call around the clock and are braced to brave the cold weather at a moment's notice in order to keep the road network as safe as possible and on the move.

A team of decision makers keeps a very close eye on the weather forecasts so that they can draw up a plan of action to combat frosty conditions.

They monitor seven specific predictions every day and make sure that the most effective treatment is put in place.