National Highways is advising drivers to take extra care on the roads and prepare for adverse conditions as heavy rain and strong winds sweep across the country from the South Westover the next 36 hours.

Heavy rain is expected to affect parts of the West Country later today.

Winds are expected to strengthen from the South West during this afternoon and tomorrow, with gusts up to 60mph on higher ground and coastal areas, and up to 50mph inland.

The strong winds are likely to make travelling conditions particularly difficult on higher ground in Devon and particularly on the A30around Bodmin in Cornwall.

Following a Met Office yellow alert for strong winds, National Highways advises motorists – particularly those driving high-sided HGVs, motorhomes and motorcycles, and those towing caravans and trailers – to check the weather and driving conditions before setting out on journeys.

Drivers should also pay particular attention when travelling across exposed locations such as coastal and high lying areas and bridges which could be affected by the high winds. 

Forecasters expect the winds to slowly ease during Wednesday evening, and the M48 Severn Bridge is likely to be affected by the strong winds across this period.

Dale Hipkiss, national network manager for National Highways, said: “Based on the weather forecasts, we’re expecting heavy rain and then high, gusting winds to sweep across the country from the west and we’re encouraging drivers to check the latest weather and travel conditions before setting off on journeys. 

“If you do intend to travel, then plan your journey and take extra care, allowing more time for your journey. 

“In high winds, there’s a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes so we’d advise drivers of these vehicles to slow down and drive to the conditions. 

“Drivers of other vehicles should be aware of sudden gusts of wind which can affect handling and braking, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, and motorbikes plenty of space.” 

Unladen curtain-sided vehicles are particularly vulnerable to windy conditions on high ground in Devon and Cornwall.

( )

Mr Hipkiss 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.”

When you’re on the road in windy conditions, National Highways' advice is to:

  • Slow down and keep focused on the road ahead – you may encounter debris blown in by the wind; 

  • Avoid using exposed sections of road if possible. Lorries, caravans and motorbikes are at particular risk; 

  • Use both hands on the steering wheel to keep good control of your vehicle –gusts of wind can cause your vehicle to shake; 

  • Look out for gaps in trees or buildings, or when crossing bridges – you’re more likely to encounter side winds here; 

  • Keep room on either side of your vehicle to allow for it being blown sideways; 

  • Watch out for side winds when passing larger high-sided vehicles – keep room on either side of your vehicle to allow for it being blown sideways. 

    And when driving in rain:

      • If it’s time for your wipers, it’s time to slow down; 

      • Use dipped headlights, especially if visibility is seriously reduced; 

      • The roads will be more slippery than usual, so give yourself more time to react – increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front to at least four seconds; 

      • Look out for standing water – adjust your driving before and after; 

      • Always keep your eyes on the road – spray from other vehicles can suddenly reduce your visibility; 

      • Visibility affects others too, so anticipate their actions and be prepared; 

      • During thunderstorms, sudden winds can unsettle vehicles – keep your speed down and give other road users more room. 

        NationalHighways also advises drivers to carry essential supplies just incase you need them, items such as water and food, warm clothes, a fully charged mobile and car charger, torch, blankets and boots.

        Road users are being advised to follow messages on any overhead signs, listen to radio updates and follow the National Highways’ Twitter feeds- @HighwaysSWEST, @HighwaysSEAST, @HighwaysNWEST and @HighwaysWMIDS.

        Further information can be found at orby calling the National Highways Information Line on 0300123 5000.