Highways England praised for helping festive footie fixtures

Highways England is urging football fans to follow its seasonal advice before they set off to watch Boxing Day matches.

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To help journeys flow more smoothly and to keep disruption to a minimum, almost 98 per cent of motorways and major A-roads will be roadworks-free in time for Christmas, meaning sports lovers and shoppers can get to their destination as smoothly as possible.

Where it is safe to do so, more than 800 miles of roadworks have been lifted or suspended on England’s motorways and major A-roads by 6am on Friday 20 December until 12.01am on Thursday 2 January.

The decision to lift roadworks has been welcomed by the English Football League (EFL) with football fixtures taking place across the length of the country on 26 December.

Director of communications at the EFL, Mark Rowan, said: “The EFL welcomes the decision taken to lift or suspend roadworks on England’s motorways and A-roads over the Christmas and New Year period, one which remains an important part of the footballing calendar for thousands of fans up and down the country.

“Every year, EFL Clubs play their part in bringing together friends and families as they travel to festive fixtures, so we hope this will make their journeys that little bit easier.”

Highways England’s customer service director Melanie Clarke said:

“We know that the festive period is a busy time for football supporters and that’s why we’re doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible by keeping around 98 per cent of the road network we manage free from roadworks.

“And we’re asking drivers to be prepared too before setting off so they don’t miss the big match. We know from experience that almost half of breakdowns can easily be avoided if motorists carry out simple vehicle checks before their journeys.

“So, before you set off, check traffic conditions, check your vehicle, and make sure you’re aware of the signs and signals on motorway.”

Before they set off, Highways England is urging motorists to:

  • Check fuel: Make sure you have enough to get to your destination
  • Check tyres: Check your tyre pressure and the condition of your tyres, including the spare. Look out for cuts or wear and make sure the tyres have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, which is the legal limit
  • Check engine oil: Use your dipstick to check oil before any long journey, and top up if needed – take your car back to the garage if you’re topping up more than usual
  • Check water: To ensure you have good visibility, always keep your screen wash topped up so you can clear debris or dirt off your windscreen
  • Check your lights: If your indicators, hazard lights, headlights, fog lights, reverse lights or brake lights are not functioning properly, you are putting yourself at risk. In addition, light malfunctions can be a reason for your vehicle to fail its MOT

And with more wet weather forecast over the coming days, Highways England is also calling on those travelling over the festive period to make sure they drive to the conditions.

Richard Leonard, Head of Road Safety at Highways England, said:

“Most of us already slowdown in snow, ice or fog but when it rains we consider it normal so don’t adapt our driving.

“Rain makes it harder for tyres to grip the road and harder for drivers to see ahead – significantly increasing the chances of being involved in a collision.

“We’re encouraging drivers to check the latest weather and travel conditions before setting off on journeys, with heavy rain expected for much of today and more wet weather over the weekend.”

In wet weather you should:

•?????????? Slow down if the rain and spray from vehicles is making it difficult to see and be seen and remember that stopping distances will be at least double in wet weather, because your tyres will have less grip on the road.

•?????????? Keep well back from the vehicle in front as this will increase your ability to see and plan ahead

•?????????? 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

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Highways England traffic officers will be working around the clock, patrolling the network to help those people who do get into difficulty.

Highways England has advice about traffic conditions on its website, Twitter feeds, and information line (0300 123 5000).

If you’re towing, Highways England is also reminding you to ensure that you have the correct licence and insurance to tow whatever the weight, make sure you have connected correctly, and always ensure your load is secure and within the limits for your vehicle before setting off.

A series of vehicle checks videos are available to help people carry out basic vehicle checks before they set off on their travels.

Highways England is also urging drivers to stay safe by adhering to motorway signage, including the red X signals.

Highways England closes lanes for a reason and drivers ignoring red X signs put themselves and others at risk.

Drivers planning to use the Dartford Crossing are reminded to pay Dart Charge in advance or by midnight the day after crossing.