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Ready, spready, go!

With the arrival of the forecast cold spell, our gritting teams are out in force treating roads on Devon’s primary, secondary and precautionary salting routes.

The remainder of this week is set to be the coldest of this winter so far, with the The Met Office issuing a yellow weather warning in the north of the county for the possibility of icy patches, particularly on untreated surfaces, and there is the risk of wintry showers on higher ground.

And with road temperatures across the county expected to drop below zero, any water run-off from adjacent land could freeze and lead to icy patches, especially on untreated roads.

What we do

We aim to help road users travel safely around the county, especially in winter.

Gritting depots across the county are fully stocked with around 24,000 tonnes of salt ready for our fleet of 37 frontline gritters.

The decision to call our gritters into action is based on road temperatures, not air temperatures, and our Network Operations Control Centre (NOCC), which runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, is fully equipped to monitor the effects of winter weather on our roads.

Radar and satellite images are used to track rain and cloud cover across the county, and we have close links with our specialised weather forecasters.

The systems at the control centre also link to our network of 38 roadside ice detectors, at strategic locations across the county, that provide live information that helps us predict when ice and snow may occur.

This means that we can quickly identify and treat major roads on our salting routes that are freezing and direct gritters to the worst affected areas. 

vegetable oilInteresting fact:Our gritters run on sustainably sourced Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), which is a waste product from the food industry and produces 90% less CO2 than regular diesel!

When we salt

Salting is usually carried out when roads are forecast to be at, or below, freezing temperature, or when snow is forecast.

However, please don’t presume a road has been treated, even if it’s on a salting route. Rain may occasionally delay treatment leaving roads liable to freezing until they are salted. And in the case of snow, it takes time and traffic for salt to melt it.

Where we salt

We can’t salt all roads in Devon as this would be an enormous and costly task.

Motorway and trunk roads are the responsibility of National Highways, so we don’t salt those either.

But we do salt the 2,650 kilometres (1,650 miles) of major routes where the majority of vehicles travel, as well as access points to emergency services such as hospitals and fire stations, railways, airports and secondary schools. This is known as our primary salting network, and covers 20 per cent of Devon’s roads.

We are also continuing a trial to treat some of Exeter’s busiest cycle routes to help people to use active travel all year round. 

Details of our salting routes can be found on our website.

Want to know more?

Visit our ‘frequently asked questions about gritting’ webpage

What can you do?

Winter weather can make roads treacherous, even if they’ve been salted, and with over 90 per cent of all crashes attributed to human error, the real key to driving in winter is to drive with due care for the conditions.

Research suggests braking distances can be doubled in wet conditions and multiplied by 10 on snow or ice, so reduce your speed and leave more space between you and the vehicle in front. 

Please, never assume a road has been salted. Our primary salting network covers 20 per cent of Devon’s roads, but this means that 80 per cent of roads are not routinely salted. Rain will wash salt off roads leaving them prone to ice, and in extreme cold even salting will not stop ice from forming.

Grit bins

We provide more than 3,500 grit bins across Devon, in areas that are not included in our primary salting network, so you can help keep roads and pavements in your area free from ice. 

Careful consideration has been given to where these bins are located, including the proximity to major routes, traffic speed and volumes and the particular gradient or bends of the road.

These supplies must only be used to treat public roads and pavements, not private property, such as driveways. Empty grit bins can be reported via our “Report It” webpages.

Snow Wardens

Devon’s snow warden scheme, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, continues to provide additional support for communities as part of our winter self-help scheme.

The 325 volunteer snow wardens across the county treat their priority routes during prolonged spells of severe weather. 

Find out more about Devon’s snow warden scheme on our communities webpages or contact Parish Council representatives who can liaise with their local Neighbourhood Highway Officer.

Reporting a problem on our roads

The best way to report any problems on our roads is via our website. You will be given a reference number so you can track the progress of the problem you report.

Report a problem on one of our roads via our website

If you are reporting an emergency on the highway that requires immediate attention (something that is very likely to present an imminent threat to life or serious injury or serious damage to property), please call us on 0345 155 1004.

National Highways look after the M5 motorway and trunk roads in Devon – they can be contacted on 0300 123 5000.

Staying up to date

Our Network Operations Control Centre (NOCC) team regularly post updates on social media with the latest travel information and advice:

Follow Devon Alert on Twitter
Follow Devon Alert on Facebook

School closure information is available on our website, but please also refer to your school’s website for further details on individual school arrangements.

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