Wintry weather hits UK, nation braces for traffic



London: Road-gritting and snow clearance teams are standing by to deal with the first onslaught of wintry weather in the UK as forecasters warn that temperatures are likely to plunge over the weekend.

Much colder weather is expected today, followed by temperatures plummeting to little above freezing tomorrow and Saturday as schools break up for the half-term holiday.

With snow expected on Scottish mountains and sleet in other areas, the Gritit company is holding a skid-prevention training event at Donington Park race track in Derbyshire today.

Gritit said, "With forecasters predicting a significant drop in temperatures this weekend, we are expecting our teams to be out gritting for the first time this season."

Gritit's operations director, Nikki Singh-Barmi, added, "The driver safety training day at Donington is part of our annual preparations for the coming season. By the nature of their job, our drivers are required to be on the road during the most challenging and sometimes treacherous conditions, so it is vital they have the skills needed."

"We have a duty of care not only to our team and clients, but also the general public, and by introducing this practical training two years ago we've significantly reduced the number of incidents our drivers are involved in.

"In the exercise, drivers will experience, among other things, skid control, the best ways of spreading salt and how to "read" the weather.

MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, predicted that temperatures, which have been well above average in most places for late October, could fall as low as 3 degree celsius today.

A survey of nearly 2,000 drivers carried out by the RAC company found that 28 per cent were planning a holiday or a short break this autumn.

As a result, the breakdown service said it was gearing up for an autumn "roads rush" by scheduling an extra 10 per cent patrol hours on October 26 as well as for the expected rise in return-to-work call-outs on Monday November 5 from people who have left a vehicle - often a second family car - unused for a week.

RAC technical director David Bizley said, "The expected extra half-term traffic will have a significant impact on congestion on the roads. The RAC is advising motorists to listen to the weather forecast before making any long journeys and to ensure they are ready for adverse conditions on the road."

PTI