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Women Drivers Vs. Caught Out In Severe Weather

Highways Agency (UK)

Women drivers less likely to get caught out in severe weather says research

Women drivers are more likely to take advice from the Highways Agency and the Met Office and less likely to get caught out by the weather, according to newly published research.

A survey of nearly 1,300 road users by the Highways Agency showed that women were less likely than men to make a journey by car after hearing a severe weather warning. Only 44% of women said they would continue, compared with 62% of men. The survey also highlighted age differentials - only 40% of respondents over 65 would continue their journey, while 65% of 18-24s would.

Although women and older people are more likely to heed the warnings, the Highways Agency is concerned that just over half of all those interviewed (53%) said they would carry on with their journey regardless of a severe weather warning.

Today the Highways Agency is launching a new campaign with advice on Safe Driving in Severe Weather, and reminding drivers not to be complacent despite the recent mild weather.

Launching the campaign, the Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said:
"The recent mild weather brings a risk that drivers could be lulled into a false sense of security. So the Highways Agency is offering a timely reminder to road users to plan their journeys and listen out for weather warnings.

"The British winter is not just about ice and snow. As we have seen this year, heavy rain, strong winds and fog are as much a part of the British climate and they can make driving hazardous.

"The Highways Agency is working in partnership with the Met Office and others to give up-to-date information about road and weather conditions for England's motorways and major A roads.

"So make sure you and your vehicle are ready for winter. The last thing you want is to be stuck on a cold, wet or windy motorway hard shoulder. If bad weather arrives, slow down and adapt your driving to suit the conditions. Keep up to date by listening to the travel news while you are on the road, and if conditions get too bad find a safe place to break your journey until the weather improves."

Once again this winter, forecasters from the Met Office are working with the Highways Agency at our National Traffic Control Centre in the West Midlands.

Senior Met Office forecaster Alex Hill said:

"Climate change is leading to milder and wetter winters in the UK, possibly leading us into a false sense of security. As we have seen this year, there is an increased risk of heavy rainfall, which can produce spray and surface water. Fog and strong winds can also be a problem. The severe gales last January, and the floods in July, all go to show just how variable and treacherous the weather can be.

"Even the milder winter weather doesn't mean we can be complacent. There is still the possibility of some colder spells, so drivers should be prepared for this too."

A third of respondents to the Highways Agency survey also admitted they would not check their vehicle or their route before setting out.

Drivers are being encouraged to plan their journeys using information services like the Highways Agency website, where you can access advice on Driving in Severe Weather, and the new Traffic Radio service which is available on the web and DAB digital radio.

As winter approaches, the Highways Agency has its fleet of winter service vehicles on stand-by to keep roads free from ice and snow. Highways Agency traffic officers will be patrolling the motorways to help drivers and working with the Police to clear incidents as quickly as possible.

High-sided vehicles are particularly vulnerable to strong winds so the Highways Agency has launched a new severe weather alert system for lorry drivers in partnership with Freight Transport Association (FTA) and Road Haulage Association (RHA). Amber and red alerts will be communicated through radio bulletins, the Highways Agency Traffic Radio service and through the FTA and RHA membership network.


1. The Highways Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. We manage, maintain and improve England's motorways and major A roads on behalf of the Secretary of State.

2. A new information leaflet, Driving in Severe Weather - Helping you steer clear of trouble, has been published. It provides advice to drivers on how to remain safe when driving in severe weather conditions, as well as giving the details of how to access our information services.

3. The Highways Agency commissioned research into attitudes to driving in severe weather. This was carried out by MVA Consultancy between October 2006 and March 2007. A total of 1,288 people, who made up a national representative sample of the population of England and were either drivers or passengers in cars/coaches who had used a motorway or trunk road in the last year, were interviewed.

Issued by the Highways Agency South East Press Office.

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