Drivers told to ‘take extra care’ with national gritting operation

UK motorways: Highways England warns drivers of speed limits

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National Highways’ gritters will be back out on the roads in the coming days with a period of cold weather due. Motorists should give all gritters plenty of time and space on the road after a National Highways vehicle was hit by another vehicle while out spreading salt earlier this winter.

Road users should also consider the following steps to keep safe on the road in terms of planning for their journey, keeping pace with the latest weather forecasts, and ensuring they carry out regular vehicle checks.

A number of Met Office yellow weather warnings have been issued for the next three days, affecting much of the UK.

Drivers can expect snow and ice across much of Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of north Wales and northern England.

The Met Office warns that some roads and railways are likely to be affected by longer journey times, as well as icy patches on some untreated roads.

Autumn and winter can bring more adverse and severe weather conditions which can affect motorists and these include fog, heavy rain, high winds and gales and ice and snow.

Some areas of the country are also dealing with flooding as a result of the heavy rain seen in the last few weeks.

Darren Clark, Severe Weather Resilience Manager, at National Highways said: “We would ask all road users to take extra care when driving when our gritters are out on our road.

“Whilst gritters travel up to 50mph when spreading road users need to be aware of the road and traffic ahead of them. We have had an incident this winter where the rear of a gritter was hit. 

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“We ask all road users to give our staff time and space to do their job safely, and if you see our vehicles indicating to change lanes please do what you can to safely help us to do this.”

National Highways has contracts with independent meteorological experts DTN and Metdesk to monitor road temperatures and weather forecasts.

This runs from October 1, until April 30, with National Highways constantly looking at when and where to grit to keep roads safe.

Mr Clark continued, saying: “Not all roads will need treating on any given day. Gritters may need to go out in some regions if road temperatures fall below one degree Celcius, and if there is a risk of frost or ice forming, but not in other areas if conditions are not as cold.

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“National Highways is committed to treating every road which needs to be treated – whenever it is needed. 

“We are armed with the latest technology, forecasting intelligence and years of experience to help us make informed decisions about where and when we need to spread salt to help keep road users safe in even the most adverse weather conditions.

“For road users, we suggest always checking the weather forecasts, planning your journey, allowing more time for travel in wintry conditions, and carrying out regular vehicle checks such as your coolant and tyre pressures.”

National Highways recently completed the assembly of its new £44million, two-year investment in a fleet of 252 Volvo gritter vehicles, some of which carried out winter operations last year, and all of which are involved in salt spreading this season. 

Vehicles in the winter gritting fleet can carry up to around 12,000 kg of salt, or 8,400 kg of salt and 3,600 litres of brine at any one time. 

The Volvo gritting vehicles can spread up to 50mph, encouraging traffic to keep moving more effectively on the roads even when they are being treated. 

These vehicles are based at 128 depots nationwide with a stockpile of around 280,000 tonnes of salt for the autumn and winter season. 

There are two new depots in this total – one at Malton, on the A64 and one at Newport on the A63, both in Yorkshire. 

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