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National Highways to deploy hundreds of gritters to A-roads and motorways as England's cold weather alert comes into force





Hundreds of gritters are ready to salt both A-roads and motorways as a band of bitterly cold Arctic weather sweeps in.
A cold weather alert for England was due to come into force at 6pm on Wednesday with ice, frost and wintry showers forecast alongside possible lows of -10C in isolated areas.

National Highways says it is ready for its first winter runs
National Highways says it is ready for its first winter runs

National Highways, which is responsible for the country's major road network, has confirmed that hundreds of its gritters are now on standby for the first major salt spreading run of the winter.

In response to the severe weather warning it has ready around 530 gritting vehicles, working from 128 depots, that are able to treat both motorway routes and major A-roads.

While staff will work alongside the Met Office and use in-depth forecasting to know precisely where and when to treat roads with salt, motorists on the roads in the coming days are being urged to pay close attention to the weather conditions and give any gritting teams they pass sufficient space to operate.

In the face of deteriorating weather, National Highways says staff are ready to take care of England's 4,500 miles of strategic road network after a relatively mild autumn that has seen road surface temperatures remain above 1C. They will work alongside council highways gritting teams which are responsible for treating and maintaining local routes.

National Highways is responsible for motorways and major A-roads
National Highways is responsible for motorways and major A-roads

With Met Office forecasts suggesting daytime temperatures will struggle to get above freezing and nights will be considerably colder it is anticipated that many road surfaces will need treating over the next few days and nights, with the current amber alert for cold weather set to remain in place until 9am Monday morning.

Darren Clark, Severe Weather Resilience Manager at National Highways, explained: "Not all roads will need treating on any given day. Gritters may need to go out in some regions if road temperatures fall below 1C, and if there is a risk of ice forming, but not in other areas if conditions are not as cold.

"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."

Gritting vehicles 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, spreading at up to 50mph to encourage traffic on major roads to keep moving even when they are being treated.

Drivers are being asked to give gritters the space to work
Drivers are being asked to give gritters the space to work

Alongside giving the gritters space to work National Highways has the following advice for drivers who encounter bad weather in the coming days:

* Stick to the main roads where you can and only travel if necessary.

* Slow down as it can take 10 times longer to stop in icy conditions.

* Use a high gear to avoid wheel spins.

* Accelerate gently, using low revs and consider pulling away in second gear to avoid skidding.

* You may need up to 10 times the normal gap between your car and the car in front.

* Try not to brake suddenly – it may lock up your wheels and you could skid further.

* Be extra cautious at road junctions where road markings may not be visible.

* Look out for gritters spreading salt and only overtake if it's safe to do so.

Drivers are being asked to pay close attention to weather conditions in the coming days. Image: iStock.
Drivers are being asked to pay close attention to weather conditions in the coming days. Image: iStock.

The UK Health Security Agency says the elderly, very young, and those with underlying health conditions are among those likely to be at most risk of complications caused by the cold weather.

Incidents of strokes, heart attacks, respiratory diseases such as influenza, falls, injuries and hypothermia can all increase with a drop in temperature, warn officials, who are asking the fit and well to check in with friends and neighbours in the coming days.



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