In severe and wintry weather it’s even more important to plan your journey.
The Highways Agency provides up to the minute traffic reports for its network of 4,300 miles of motorways and major A roads across England.
Just a few minutes checking before you set off can make all the difference to your journey.
Check weather updates
Take weather conditions into account when planning your route by visiting the Met Office website or listening to local radio broadcasts.
Why not bookmark the Highways Agency website traffic pages on your computer, download the iPhone app, or follow the Agency on Twitter? Its traffic data is also used by thousands of other websites, radio stations and even satnav companies.
Check traffic updates before you set off
The Highways Agency website includes latest traffic reports, maps showing how the traffic is flowing on England’s motorways and major A roads, a motorway flow diagram, views from CCTV cameras, average speeds and the displays on motorway message signs.
If you are away from your computer or have already set out on your journey, there are still lots of ways to get Highways Agency live traffic information.
Updates on the move
On overhead message signs – regional control centres will flash up important travel messages warning you of delays and advising of alternative routes. There are also automatic signs telling you how long it will take traffic to reach certain destinations at that time.
When you take a break
On long journeys, consider taking a break at regular intervals – and that’s an ideal time to check the traffic conditions on the road ahead. While you are safely parked, check the latest information via your mobile phone, iPhone or laptop. Never stop on the hard shoulder to do this.
Download free app for your iPhone or if you have another type of smart phone that is web enabled, you can visit the Agency website to access a mobile friendly version. This will allow you to select live updates by road, region or motorway. Remember; never use a mobile while driving.
There are also information points with screens displaying live traffic updates at most motorway service areas.
Follow the Highways Agency on Twitter
The Highways Agency Twitter channels @winterhighways (and @HAChristmas over the festive period) will help you prepare for your winter journey with timely reminders and traffic updates. There are also regional feeds for live traffic information. For further information on this service and a full index visit the Agency website
Stick to the main roads where you can and avoid exposed routes. The Highways Agency looks after motorways and major A roads and its colleagues in local authorities look after all the other roads. Work is undertaken to keep the networks clear during severe weather.
You should drive with care and respect the road conditions wherever you drive, but not every road can be treated, so you need to take even more care driving on minor roads. It’s not just the salt treatment that helps cut through snow and ice; it’s the amount of traffic too.
Steep hills and exposed roads are also likely to present more challenging driving conditions, so if you could avoid these it might make your journey easier.
Always allow extra time in severe weather. Listen to warnings or advice and consider whether or not your journey is essential. If severe weather is forecast, can you plan your journey to travel before the worst of the weather? Or wait until it has passed? Or at least allow time after the snowfall for winter crews to start clearing and treating the roads? It all helps.
Holidays and Christmas
If you’re going on holiday or visiting friends and relatives over the festive season, chances are it will involve a longer and less familiar journey than your regular commute – that makes planning even more important.
Did you know the Highways Agency has traffic cameras to help you see if it’s snowing on route and at your destination?
Allow plenty of time, prepare for your journey, check for updates before you set off and you’ll arrive still full of seasonal goodwill.