Drivers warned of major road safety issues with snow and ice alerts

The Met Office has issued a number of yellow weather warnings for snow and ice, affecting much of the UK for the rest of the week. As a result of the cold temperatures, a number of National Highways gritting vehicles are being deployed to spread salt where needed, with drivers being warned of their behaviour.

It also follows the recent “Know the Zones” campaign launched by the organisation to help road users understand the blind spots HGV drivers face from passing and overtaking vehicles.

In a recent survey commissioned by National Highways, almost three-quarters of people said they take extra care when overtaking a HGV.

However, over a third (36 percent) said they were unaware of how many blind spots a HGV had.

A similar percentage also admitted to feeling nervous when passing around larger trucks.

National Highways manages 4,500 miles of A-roads and motorways and can call upon around 530 gritters in extreme weather conditions.

Darren Clark, Severe Weather Resilience Manager at National Highways, said he wanted to give one simple message to all road users.

He said: “Please be patient and give us the time and space to do what we need to do to keep you safe.

“If you are going to pass us, please do so courteously, pass us safely and legally.

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“Or even better, if you are able to stay back, you will actually help the salt on the road activate even more quickly by crushing and breaking it into the road surface which benefits everyone.”

He added that motorists should remember that National Highways are not gritting all the time.

Some of the fleet might come off at particular junctions or return to depots while other vehicles take over, lowering the inconvenience to other road users.

Gritting vehicles have been going out whenever needed during the winter season and teams across the country are continuing to monitor Met Office weather forecasts.

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This, alongside regular weather forecasts from MetDesk, helps them determine when they need to go out and spread salt.

Gritters may need to go out in some regions if road temperatures are expected to fall below freezing, and if there is a risk of ice forming, but not in other areas if conditions are not as cold.

Rod Dennis, RAC spokesperson, said with the sudden switch to considerably colder conditions, the potential for vehicle breakdowns increases significantly.

He added: “If a car struggles to start, the battery either needs charging – by taking it for at least a 30-minute drive – or is a sign it’s about to fail and will need replacing.

“It’s vital tyres have plenty of tread as good grip is essential in cold conditions. 

“Any tyres that are well-worn and approaching the legal tread limit should be changed as a matter of urgency.”

Mr Dennis also urged drivers to ensure their tyres are free of damage and are inflated to the correct pressures.

It is also strongly recommended that drivers check their oil and coolant levels and top up if necessary.

Vehicles in the winter gritting fleet can carry up to around 12,000kg of salt, or 8,400kg of salt and 3,600 litres of brine at any one time.

The Romaquip/Volvo gritting vehicles can spread up to 50mph, encouraging traffic to keep moving more effectively on the roads even when they are being treated.

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