MOTORISTS across West Wiltshire are being urged to take care when driving in wintry conditions with roads in many areas still affected by flooding and ice.

Teams from Wiltshire Council and Highways England have worked hard to keep roads clear and say drivers should remain vigilant despite conditions improving.

Heavy rainfall led to surface water flooding issues in some parts and high winds have blown debris onto the roads and brought trees and branches down.

On the B3106 between Holt and Staverton, drivers were criticised for ignoring signs warning them not to drive through flood water.

Damian Bence, of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Going out to flooded areas and rescuing motorists, such as along the B3106 near Holt, is part of our job but the frustrating thing is they ignore road closure signs or they think it is a bit of fun.

“The consequences of actions like these do not pass through people’s minds. But the fact that this will damage someone’s car and make it unlikely that the insurance company will pay for it, is a strong reason not to do this.

“This is stopping firefighters from attending to other matters, potentially ones that are life-threatening. It also puts firefighters in danger. Sometimes just four inches of flood water can sweep someone off their feet.

“In the past, even fire engines have become stuck because the flood water is so powerful as it tears up the road. That can then get mixed with sewage water and cause things to fly every which way.

“People need to take more care, not take the risk of driving in these areas and take a longer and safer route, as it can be very serious.”

Wiltshire Council said gritting vehicles had been out treating main roads and had spread more than 400 tonnes of salt. Highways teams have also been out clearing drains and letting off surface water where possible.

Challenging conditions are forecast over the weekend and drivers are being advised to allow extra time and to be aware of the steps they can take to improve their own safety.

Highways England is advising people to only travel if necessary and, if journeys are required, to make sure they are prepared for the conditions.

Sean Dowding, Operations Manager says: “Gritters are out treating our routes around the clock, and we have extra recovery teams in place but it is still important to drive to the conditions when snow has fallen.

“Keep your distance and reduce your speed, because even in conditions that seem normal, it can be slippery if ice patches have formed, or where fresh grit has not been worked into the carriageway.

“Drivers should plan their journeys, monitor weather reports and pack a snow kit of blankets, food, water and a shovel.”

Drivers are being urged to monitor websites, local radio or log into Twitter for the latest information.