Drivers’ actions have exacerbated disruption on the roads caused by heavy snow, it has been claimed. Greater Manchester Police said ploughing and gritting on the M62 was “severely delayed” by motorists illegally using the hard shoulder and closed lanes.
The RAC said “the situation was made worse” by drivers overtaking other vehicles and getting stuck in fresh snow. Salt spread by gritters does not stop snow from settling on road surfaces, but it does make it easier to remove with snowploughs.
National Highways, the Government-owned company responsible for England’s motorways and major A roads, said it was “well prepared” for the conditions and had deployed gritters for the past week. Some vehicles heading east across the Pennines from Greater Manchester on the M62 overnight were stranded for several hours due to the conditions.
GMP’s traffic officers posted a message on their Twitter account which said: “(We are) doing our best, but ploughing/gritting have been severely delayed due to the hard shoulder and red X lanes being blocked by some drivers illegally using them.”
RAC breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis told the PA news agency: “A substantial amount of snow falling in a very short space of time can quickly lead to problems even if a road has been treated, and it looks like that’s what happened on the M62 overnight. The situation was made worse by drivers overtaking slower moving traffic only to find themselves stuck in a lane of fresh snow.”
He added: “Things are thankfully now improving but the scenes of stranded drivers is the perfect reminder of why it’s so important to carry a warm blanket, a winter coat, extra layers, food and drink and a power bank and phone-charging cable.”
The RAC received calls from drivers stuck in the snow in Yorkshire – particularly around Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford and Hull – and breakdown volumes were also very high in the East Midlands and north of London.
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Duncan Smith, National Highways executive director of operations, said: “We are well prepared and our gritters have been out in full force since Friday March 3 and will continue to treat the roads. We are asking drivers to plan ahead, check the forecast and allow more time for their journeys.”
The company told motorists: “We are currently experiencing very high call volumes to our call centre, so you may encounter a delay if trying to get through to us.”
Derbyshire Constabulary urged drivers not to travel in the Peak District on Friday morning “unless absolutely necessary” as most roads in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales areas were “impassable”. The force said it was working with mountain rescue teams to respond to reports of stranded vehicles.
Parts of the A66 in Durham and the A628 Woodhead Pass in South Yorkshire were closed overnight due to heavy snow. The A616 was also shut between the Woodhead Pass and the A6102 (Stocksbridge) after a tree fell into the road.
Several major roads in north and mid Wales were closed due to snow.
- The A55 westbound between Broughton and Dobshill
- The A458 between Buttington and Middletown
- The A470 between Llanidloes and Llangurig
- The A44 between Llandegley and New Radnor.
North Wales Police said “driving conditions remain poor” across the area due to “significant snowfall overnight”. The force added: “We are advising motorists to only travel if necessary.”