Gritters out in force as temperatures plummet

Gritters on the road

Posted on: 28 November 2016

Devon’s army of gritters will be out in force tonight as forecasters predict temperatures to plummet below freezing.

With the mercury set to drop as low as -5 overnight, Devon County Council’s salt spreading crews are out across the county starting to treat more than 2,000 miles of road on the primary and secondary network.

Road surface temperatures across Devon have already started to fall, and gritting activity this afternoon focussed on secondary routes around Torridge, Mid, West and North Devon, and inland areas of East Devon where cold temperatures and a prolonged freeze are set to last for much of tomorrow.

Precautionary treatment on the rest of the gritting network will start this evening due to the potential for hoar frost and to try to combat dangerous icy patches forming on roads, with some routes receiving an additional treatment before the morning rush hour.

Although conditions are dry motorist are warned to take care as there is a risk of ice on wet patches from last week’s storm, particularly on roads not on the primary or secondary network.

With frosty conditions predicted to continue for the next few days and road surface temperatures forecast to fall to -7 on Tuesday night, highway chiefs are continually monitoring weather and road temperatures to decide when and where further gritting may be needed.

Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, Councillor Stuart Hughes, said:

“We are due to experience some of the lowest temperatures we’ve seen for a while, and we are well prepared to keep the county moving during this cold snap.

“Our fleet of 37 frontline gritters are geared up and ready to go, treating primary and secondary routes designed to cover around 25% of Devon’s highway network and ensuring all strategic routes and major roads are salted if necessary.

“We are working hard to make sure it is as safe as possible for residents, businesses and visitors to travel around Devon whatever the weather, and as part of this I encourage everyone to make sure they are prepared for winter too. Ensure you know your gritted route to work, make sure your vehicle is fit for driving in the winter conditions, and adapt your driving style to the conditions of the road.

“Regardless of whether a road has been gritted, motorists need to slow down, watch out for icy patches and allow more time for their journeys. Never assume that a road has been salted, and even then, gritting does not guarantee a road will be safe so I urge everyone to take extra care.”

Road users are reminded of the following advice:

  • Avoid overnight travel unless absolutely essential as roads will always be more hazardous at night with less traffic and colder temperatures;
  • Never assume a road has been salted. Remember that showers or rain will wash salt off roads leaving them prone to ice, and in extreme cold even salting will not stop ice from forming;
  • Allow additional time for your journey and reduce your speed;
  • Drive with care and according to the conditions;
  • If you have vulnerable or elderly neighbours, think about how they could possibly be helped through the cold spell;
  • Listen to local radio for updates on current weather conditions.

For more information and travel advice from Devon County Council visit the winter travel pages on our website or for updates on Twitter follow @DevonAlert

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