Highways England is advising drivers to take care and be prepared for strong gales throughout the day as the tail end of Hurricane Ophelia moves north and eastwards across the country.
Motorists, particularly those driving 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.
Wind speeds across the South West region are currently between 30mph and 40mph but the Met Office is anticipating gusts of between 40 to 50mph on high areas, sweeping up from the region to the north from 3pm until 10pm
Christian Morgan, Operations Manager in Highways England’s South West region, said: “We’re encouraging drivers to check the latest weather and travel conditions before setting off on journeys.
“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, 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.”
Unladen curtain-sided vehicles are particularly vulnerable to windy conditions on high ground, such as parts of the South West, particularly around Bodmin on the A30 in Cornwall.
And Mr Morgan 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 the Highways England Information Line on 0300 123 5000.
More advice on driving in windy weather is available from the met office.