The organisation in charge of England’s motorways and major A-roads has confirmed it will be gritting the roads it controls amid the cold snap this week. However, National Highways has asked drivers to be aware of the conditions and plan their journeys accordingly to ensure smooth, safe traffic flow.

According to weather forecasters, the UK is set to see temperatures drop below freezing at various points during the first half of this week (commencing January 16). As a result, National Highways says it will be gritting roads when necessary, depending on where temperatures are lowest. The organisation has warned areas of high ground are particularly likely to experience wintry conditions, including hail, sleet and snow, but says “ice is likely to be an ongoing hazard for most from January 15 onward”.

National Highways has asked drivers to take extra care amid adverse conditions, particularly around gritting trucks. One of the organisation’s vehicles was rear-ended earlier this winter, and the government-run company is keen to prevent a recurrence.

Highways England Gritters 1

The news comes as National Highways recently completed its £44 million, two-year investment in a fleet of 252 Volvo gritting trucks, some of which saw service last year. As a result, the organisation now has around 530 gritting vehicles at its disposal this winter.

Each vehicle can carry around 12,000 kg of salt, or 8,400 kg of salt and 3,600 litres of brine at any one time, spreading at speeds of up to 50 mph. When in transit and not treating the road, the vehicles are limited to 56 mph.

Gritter truck spreading rock salt on the road surface

“We would ask all road users to take extra care when driving when our gritters are out on our road,” said Darren Clark, the severe weather resilience manager at National Highways. “While gritters travel up to 50 mph 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. 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 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 check the weather forecasts, plan your journey, allowing more time for travel in wintry conditions, and carry out regular vehicle checks such as your coolant and tyre pressures.”