When are roads gritted?
We have weather stations across Somerset and receive special daily forecasts to predict road surface temperatures and air moisture content. Gritting is usually carried out before road surface temperatures are predicted to drop below 1°C and frost or ice is expected to form on the road. In winter you can check when the gritters are in action with daily updates on Twitter.
What we do
We are responsible for gritting roads in Somerset, except for the M5, A303 and A36 which are treated by Highways England.
Resources are not available to treat all roads so criteria have been used that meet national guidelines to enable the precautionary salting network to be defined. This has been done to ensure a consistent approach across the county and achieve a responsible balance between cost and level of service.
The criteria used to define the routes are:
- Connectivity between major communities
- Links to the strategic highway network
- Connectivity across authority boundaries where appropriate (including Highways England defined diversion routes from the A303, A36 and M5 motorway)
- Links to transport interchanges
- Access to emergency facilities including Fire and Rescue, Police, Ambulance Services and A&E hospitals
- Links to critical infrastructure
- Principal public transport routes, access to rail and bus stations, and to bus garages and other depots
- Other locally important facilities (e.g. Yeovilton Air Station, major quarries, major food distribution centres)
- Major settlement (500 addressable properties) links
- Settlements (50 addressable properties) above 500 feet links
- Links to urban schools (500+ pupils) and rural schools (300+ pupils)
- Other sections of the highway network to ensure route continuity.
In the event of snow we have established emergency plans in place, working alongside the emergency services and partners to clear the network as quickly as possible. We can equip our gritters with snowploughs and also have arrangements with farmers and snowplough operators who are employed to clear snow on our behalf. We prioritise our primary gritting network and move on to clear our secondary and minor networks as resources allow.
If you have to travel in severe weather, the Met Office has produced a guide to driving in severe weather which has plenty of useful advice.
- Only the busiest roads are salted, most are not – drive safely
- In icy conditions braking distances can increase tenfold
- It takes time for salt to become effective
- Rain can wash salt off roads
- In very low temperatures even salting does not prevent icing
- Extra caution is needed when driving in bad weather
What you can do:
- Prepare your vehicle for winter
- Check the weather forecast and road conditions before travelling
- Allow extra time for your journey
- Give gritters and snowploughs plenty of room to operate
- Carry a shovel and blanket in your vehicle
Clearing snow and ice
GOV.UK has a guide about how you can clear snow and ice from roads or pavements.
Salt bins are purchased and maintained by parish and town councils and sited at locations agreed with us. We fill these at the start of winter when requested by parish and town councils and we will refill them on request during the season if resources allow.