Motorists advised to stay at home

DRIVERS are being warned not to drive unless it s absolutely essential as freezing conditions continue across Devon.

DRIVERS are being warned not to drive unless it's absolutely essential as freezing conditions continue across Devon.

The county council's fleet of 48 frontline gritters and 36 backup gritters were out overnight on 2,000 miles of the county's roads, treating all of the primary and secondary salting routes, and salting again in the early hours.

They have been out again this morning and are expected to work throughout the day and around the clock with repeated treatments to deal with icy roads. Parts of the county are experiencing rain showers which has formed icy patches when coming into contact with freezing roads, despite the presence of salt. This is making driving conditions extremely hazardous.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: "With the conditions as they are and rain falling, people mustn't think the ice has melted because the rain is freezing straight away. Our highways teams are doing all they can and are working flat-out to keep roads as clear and safe as possible. But they've got a difficult task ahead of them with the mix of rain and freezing temperatures. I would urge all drivers and pedestrians to take extra care, even when on roads and pavements that have been salted."

Chris Cranston, Devon County Council's Highway Operations Manager, said: "The major travel problems today have been in South Devon. Despite plenty of salt on the major road network, ice has been forming following the rain showers and only starts to melt when traffic action grinds the ice into the salt. We have seen closures on the A380, A381, A3121, and the A376 due to a number of collisions."

The A380 has now been re-opened after being closed from Penn Inn to the A38.

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The authorities and care providers are working hard across the county to ensure that everyone in need of social care is still able to access it. The most challenging areas have been in the South Hams, where road conditions have been difficult, but reports indicate no major problems for people receiving home care. There have been a few incidents where care providers have been unable to reach their destinations, but these are being dealt with case by case and alternative arrangements are being made. Meals on Wheels are being delivered in all areas, although there have been difficulties in the Newton Abbot, Ashburton and Buckfastleigh areas - routes most affected by problems on the A38. People waiting for their Meals on Wheels in those areas have been contacted by telephone, and will receive them in due course.

Temperatures are forecast to drop to as low as -4 again this evening and Devon County Council's major highway maintenance contractor SWH has drafted in staff from leave and are deploying all its resources on winter service throughout Devon today. Grit bins around the county are also being monitored and replenished, and members of the public are asked not to turn up to salting depots asking for salt, to minimise avoidable journeys.

The County's Highway Operations and Control Centre, which is staffed 24 hours a day, every day of the year, is co-ordinating the gritting on the county's highway network. More than 4,500 tonnes of salt has been used by Devon County Council this winter, since November 30. Devon County Council is responsible for 8,000 miles of roads - the biggest network of any local authority in the country.

Motorists are being reminded of the following advice:

*Avoid travel unless absolutely essential, especially at night as roads will always be more hazardous at night with less traffic and colder temperatures;

*Never assume a road has been salted - remember that showers or rain can wash salt off roads leaving them prone to ice. In very cold weather even salting will not stop ice from forming;

*Allow extra time for your journey and reduce your speed;

*Listen to local radio for updates on current conditions;

*Drive with care and according to the conditions.

For more information contact 0845 1551004 or visit the website: