‘Nightmare’ ten hour journey home


One driver has described how her journey from Worthing through Horsham district to Copthorne ended up taking more than ten hours.

Hanne Steffens, who works at West Sussex County Times sister paper the Worthing Herald, said she left Worthing at 5pm, and had problems almost at once.

“The A24 was my first nightmare,” she said. “It was down to one lane travelling a maximum of 30mph the whole time because you were sliding all over the


Her tyres had no grip at all, and the road did not seem to have been gritted at all.

“From the A24 I went through Cowfold which actually was slow but fine and then joined the A23 northbound,” she recalled.

“I reached the top of Handcross Hill which is where I stayed for about seven and a half hours. It was at a complete standstill.

“The worrying thing was there wasn’t any cars going past southbound either.

“After about three hours I could see cars coming the other way, probably one car every five minutes.

“Cars, lorries, vans were all getting stuck on the hill.

“People from my side of the road were getting out their cars to help push but not really getting far as the hill is so steep and the roads were so icy.

“Then both lanes were at a standstill again.”

With the temperature outside at -4, Hanne was glad she had a blanket in the car boot, and enough petrol to run the heater every half hour or so.

“At one point I could see blue flashing lights behind me for ages trying to get through, but struggling because the standstill traffic was so compact and people

had nowhere to move to.

“It turned out to be an ambulance, and then another ambulance which obviously had other places to be.”

On the southbound carriageway, the driver of a removal van was seen handing out blankets to the vulnerable.

“Listening to the radio, BBC Sussex, on and off to save battery, the police finally spoke about 11pm saying they had no intention for people to stay here overnight and were

trying to get gritters to the hill which was a huge relief!

“West Sussex County Council didn’t release a statement to BBC Sussex until about this time too which I think was a joke.

“The worst bit was feeling uninformed about the situation.”

Hanne saw a Highways Agency van around 1am and the traffic started moving again, albeit very slowly, about an hour later.

“It was single lane traffic and the road was totally covered in snow.

“There were dumped cars everywhere which were just making things more difficult as you were trying to manoeuvre around them.

“It reminded me of a scene from 28 Days Later!

“I finally got home safe and sound but exhausted at gone 3am - more than ten hours after I left work.

“BBC Sussex radio were a huge help, talking about it non-stop up into the early hours making you feel like you were not alone.

“So many people got out their cars and vans to help others it was great to see.”

Hanne’s experience was by no means unusual, with many drivers reporting 11 or 12 hour journeys home.