Drivers are being urged to be prepared before setting out on journeys today (Thursday 23 February) after Highways England issued a severe weather alert for the country’s major roads.

An amber alert for gales will be in place across the North, Midlands and East between 6am and 6pm on Thursday in response to the strong winds and heavy rain forecast during Storm Doris.

Gusts of up to 70 miles per hour are expected on some roads, along with heavy rain and surface water. There is a particularly high risk to high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorbikes on exposed sections of the network.

Drivers of these vehicles are being strongly advised to avoid travelling on around 40 stretches of motorway and major A road while the alert is in place.

Richard Leonard, Highways England’s Head of Road Safety, said:

“We’re expecting Storm Doris to have a significant impact on the roads throughout the day tomorrow so are urging drivers to consider changing their plans if necessary and to slow down in stormy weather.

“Drivers should look out for warnings on the electronic message signs and listen for updates in radio travel bulletins. Our traffic officers will also be ready to respond to any incidents during Storm Doris, and we’re urging drivers to respond to the changing conditions on the road to stay safe.”

Earlier this winter, Highways England launched a new safety campaign warning drivers that ‘when it rains, it kills’ after the latest statistics showed that people are 30 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on the roads in rain than in snow.

The figures also reveal that travelling too fast for the current conditions was identified as a factor in 1 in 9 road deaths in Great Britain last year, with drivers failing to alter how they drive in response to changing conditions on the road.

It generally takes at least twice as long to stop on a wet road as on a dry road because tyres have less grip on the surface. In wet weather you should:

  • Slow down if the rain and spray from vehicles is making it difficult to see and be seen;
  • Keep well back from the vehicle in front as this will increase your ability to see and plan ahead; and
  • Ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually if the steering becomes unresponsive as it probably means that water is preventing the tyres from gripping the road.

A new road safety video has also been produced which shows rain falling inside the home of a family imagined to have been involved in a serious road collision. The video is available to watch at https://youtu.be/KMHRmsyAKes.