The organisation in charge of motorways and major A-roads says it has a fleet of state-of-the-art gritters standing by to tackle inclement winter weather. National Highways, the government-run company formerly known as Highways England, says 120 vehicles have arrived this year, with a further 132 coming in time for winter 2022/23.
Over the past four years, National Highways says it has replaced 311 gritters, with the first batch of 34 new vehicles arriving in the east of England in 2018. In 2019, a further 64 arrived in the north-east of England, and 93 were delivered to the north-west and south-west of England last year.
This latest batch of 120 adds to the company’s cutting-edge fleet, with each boasting a host of new technologies. The vehicles allow routes to be uploaded directly, advising drivers where to go and which lanes to treat, as well as specific information to consider such as bridges and other road features.
Over the course of this year, National Highways’ new vehicles are being spread between the south-east of England, the West Midlands and the south-west of the country, as well as the east of England. The new gritters meet the latest European Union emissions standards, in a bid to improve the environmental impact of the vehicles, but they still use heavy duty CI, or diesel, engines.
Support for the vehicles comes in the form of around 250 weather stations that line National Highways’ 4,400 miles of road network. And overhead warning signs will inform drivers of severe weather or gritting in progress.
Duncan Smith, the acting executive director of operations, at National Highways said the new fleet of gritting trucks would make gritting the roads faster and more efficient. He also advised motorists to take extra care around the gritting vehicles, overtaking safely at a reduced speed.
“The new vehicles are an impressive sight and this year’s roll out once again demonstrates our commitment to keeping drivers safe throughout the winter months,” he said. “They include state of the art technology allowing us to treat the roads up to a maximum of 50 mph, 10 mph faster than earlier models.
“We want everyone to travel safely on our roads and ask that drivers take extra care near gritters, leave a safe distance, overtake gritters carefully when it is safe to do so and at a reduced speed. When the wintry weather arrives our winter teams across the country will be ready to work around the clock to keep traffic moving.”