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Take extra care on rural roads in Herefordshire this winter

West Mercia Police is encouraging motorists to take extra care on rural roads this winter where there is mud on the roads, and reminding farmers and contractors of their legal responsibilities around keeping the highways clear of mud and debris.

mud on road

A particular hazard on rural roads is mud and debris being brought onto the roads from adjacent land. Water running off fields and property will bring mud with it, this will be reduced if land and property owners can do all they can to meet their duty to maintain roadside ditches, along with the drainage systems throughout their property. All traffic exiting gateways to fields, yards and other premises can track mud onto the road. In poor weather, any mud on the carriageway can be easily spread by moving vehicles over a much wider area, this presents a great risk to road safety over the winter period. Excess mud on the road is a danger to cars, motorbikes and cyclists and can change the way a vehicle handles, causing skidding, especially in wet conditions and freezing temperatures.

Under the Highways Act (1980), all have a legal obligation to ensure their vehicles are cleared of any mud or debris before entering the public highway, to ensure mud is not deposited on the highway.

Superintendent Paul Moxley for West Mercia Police comments:

"Every year we face problems with mud and debris being left on rural roads, which poses a real danger to anyone using those roads. While the majority of farmers and contractors take steps to ensure they keep the roads clear and safe, not all are as diligent.

"We would like to remind farmers and contractors of their responsibilities under the Highways Act. We have already taken action against offenders who haven't complied with this legislation and will continue to take a tough stance against anyone who we believe is being reckless and irresponsible.

"If you see mud on the roads, please drive with caution and treat this the same way that you would with icy or slippery roads."

Cllr Barry Durkin, Herefordshire Council Cabinet member transport and regulatory services, said:

"Excess mud can create a hazard for all road users and I would urge anyone with concerns to call our partner, Balfour Beatty Living Places on 01432 261800. They will assess the risk and work with those who are depositing mud, taking the action required to return our roads to as safe a state as we can.

"We are experiencing particular issues with mud and debris on small roads around Storesbrook Bridge, B4214 between Staplow and Ledbury. This is because more motorists are using the lanes throughout the area as a result of the B4214 being closed. We appreciate that many will choose the local lanes to complete their journey, as these do offer a convenient alternative for some. I remind all motorists that they have a duty to drive with due care and attention, so please do take care when travelling.

"Our rural lanes are more susceptible to mud, particularly as vehicles often have to use the verges to pass each other. This leads to mud on the road surface and increases the risk of collisions, particularly if care is not being taken and speeds are too high.

"The police are aware and are monitoring the situation. I would urge drivers to slow down and take extra care, and please use the signed diversion route, which is designed to manage the B4214's normal traffic flow, particularly larger vehicles, and promote road safety."