The RHA has lauded truck drivers as "heroes of the road" for battling against severe weather conditions over the past week to keep supply chains open.

The praise follows days of dangerous driving conditions brought on by a wave of extreme storms, dubbed Dudley, Eunice and Franklin, which ripped across the country leaving a trail of  devastation.

The successive storms brought high winds of up to 122 mph, which saw roads and ports closed, trucks overturned, one driver injured when his truck was blown against a bridge on the M6 and burst into flames, and another driver tragically killed when he was blown off the trailer he was unloading.

RHA Technical Director, Paul Allera, said: “I am passing on my gratitude to all those drivers out there who deserve it for battling through the storms: truck, bus, coach and emergency services. Without trucks and their drivers you get nothing. Thanks to all who have battled through the storms to ensure we get what we need.”

RHA Regional Operations Manager, Rhys Williams, a former HGV driver in such conditions, also paid tribute to the courage of drivers who had faced the storm conditions.

He said: “As an LGV C&E licence holder and having spent many years as a driver myself – and driven in all weather conditions – I fully appreciate the professionalism and courage of these drivers who were out in the recent storms, ensuring the vital supplies and deliveries get through.

“While snow and rain are awful weather conditions, driving an HGV in gale force winds is especially frightening – particularly in a high sided vehicle. You are very conscious that no matter how good your driving skills are, the wind could turn the truck over.

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Williams added: "HGV drivers are highly professional drivers, who have to be acutely aware of everything going on around them and high winds is another factor for them to take into account, alongside being extra vigilant of other road users trying to pass them, which could cause issues with wind drag – and the risk of the HGV being blown over the passing vehicle, in its slipstream.”

Referring to National Highways' call for only essential travel during the storms, Williams added: "While the message is always only go out if essential travel, with HGV traffic it usually is essential traffic.

“It is urgent supplies, possibly medical or pharmaceutical deliveries and, of course, it could possibly be drivers returning home, from being away all week in the truck.”