Army of gritters battle Beast from the East28 Feb 2018

Four thousand salt spreaders on the move to cope with cold snap

Across the UK, almost 4,000 gritters are on hand to tackle the icy blast forecast to bring blizzard conditions to most parts of the country.
 
Many of these vehicles will also be fitted with ploughs to clear away fallen snow but should more help be needed then 500 dedicated snow ploughs can be mobilised to force a way through to keep routes open.
 
Most of the vehicles will be owned by – or operated on behalf of – either councils to clear local roads or the government agencies that keep the motorways passable. However, a significant number will be deployed to keep facilities such as airports operating.
 
(Last November Highways England – which operates the English strategic road network – announced that it had more than 500 salt-spreading vehicles in its fleet together with 280,000 tonnes of salt; enough to cover 610,000 miles of motorway or the entire 1,896-mile English motorway network 322 times. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/highways-england-is-geared-up-for-winter )
 
The figures are revealed in RAC Foundation analysis of DVLA data which details the number of vehicles licensed in the UK by tax class.
 
It shows that licensed in the UK in 2017 there were:
  • 3,854 gritting vehicles:

 

(3,238 in England; 431 in Scotland; 105 in Wales; and 64 in Northern Ireland)
  • 335 dedicated snow ploughs:

 

(236 in England; 72 in Scotland; 27 in Wales; no figures for Northern Ireland)
When looked at regionally:
 
Gritting Vehicle
Snow Plough
East Midlands
361
9
East of England
297
27
London
42
13
North East
188
21
North West
288
24
South East
260
70
South West
730
32
West Midlands
277
15
Yorkshire and Humberside
795
25
England Total
3,238
236
Scotland
431
72
Wales
105
27
Northern Ireland
64
 N/A
Unknown
16
 N/A
UK TOTAL
3,854
335
 
There are 262,450 miles of road in the UK:
  • England – 188,542 miles
  • Scotland – 36,888 miles
  • Wales – 21,081 miles
  • Northern Ireland – 15,939 miles
Of these 262,450 miles, 2,338 miles are motorway:
  • England – 1,896 miles
  • Scotland – 283 miles
  • Wales – 88 miles
  • Northern Ireland – 71 miles
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:
 
“Many lessons have been learned by highway managers since the appalling winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11 caught them on the hop.
 
“But although we can take some comfort from the fact that the stockpiles of salt and grit are much higher this winter, and that there are thousands of specialised vehicles ready to do the spreading, highway authorities faced with the ‘beast from the east’ have had to use their judgement to prioritise key routes and try to stay ahead of the weather. As many drivers will know this hasn’t always been possible.
 
“Even with the scale of the gritting fleet poised for deployment it would be unrealistic to expect every road to be kept clear of snow and ice at all times, so motorists need to be on their guard and, if the snowfall is as deep as some forecasters predict, be ready to ask themselves the question ‘Is my journey really necessary?’”
 
ENDS
Contacts:
Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation
020 7747 3445 | 07711 776448 | philip.gomm@racfoundation.org  
 
Notes to editors:
The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users. The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist.
The RAC Foundation is a registered charity, number 1002705. 
All of the RAC Foundation’s work is available on the RAC Foundation website – www.racfoundation.org