Yep, it's that time of year unfortunately – winter is coming. Time to wrap up in those extra layers and grab your de-icer and ice scraper, while the country's 1,300 specially trained gritter drivers emerge from hibernation, much like Michael Buble does at this time of year in order to cash in on that Christmas record he did once.

Gritting season is upon us and Highways England says it has over 500 specialised vehicles ready to go to make our roads safer as temperatures drop. What's more, a staggering 280,000 tonnes of salt have been set aside to spread across more than 30,000 miles of A-roads and motorways this winter.

'It is essential to keep our road network running throughout the winter,' said roads minister Jesse Norman. 'Highways England has informed us that they are well prepared for adverse weather, with enough salt to cover 610,000 miles of our motorways.'

'But the expert advice is clear: drivers need to make their own judgments about road conditions,' Norman added. 'If it doesn’t look safe then they should stay put and travel once weather conditions have improved.'

To help with keeping roads safe on cold days, Highways England has 130 winter service depots across the country, and over 250 environmental sensor stations that monitor weather conditions and road temperatures in real time.

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Top winter driving tips

The government has also set out some guidelines for driving this winter:

  • In snow and ice, drivers should stick to the main roads where they can and only travel if necessary
  • drivers are also encouraged to make sure they have a winter kit in their vehicle, including an ice scraper and de-icer, warm clothes and blankets and sunglasses to cope with the low winter sun
  • In high winds, there’s a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes, so drivers should slow down and avoid using exposed sections of road if possible
  • In heavy rain, drivers should keep well back from the vehicle in front, gradually ease off the accelerator if the steering becomes unresponsive, and slow down if the rain and spray from vehicles makes it difficult to see and be seen
  • In fog, drivers should switch on their fog lights and not use lights on full beam as the fog will reflect the light back - if you really cannot see, you should consider stopping until it is safe to continue