Published: 16:32, 02 October 2021
| Updated: 16:35, 02 October 2021
You can tell when winter is just around the corner when talk turns to gritters and supplies of salt.
National Highways has just announced it has taken delivery of 120 state-of-the art gritter lorries of which 36 are coming to Kent, Surrey, West and East Sussex.
The agency has also allocated 45,000 tonnes of salt - twice the amount used last year - for its 17 depots in the south east to keep motorists on the move when temperatures plunge.
The new 26-tonne Volvo lorries, which can have gritting routes uploaded directly to tell drivers where to go and which lanes to treat, mean the region now has a fleet of 77 vehicles ready to tackle snow and ice on A-roads and motorways.
Duncan Smith, acting executive director of operations at National Highways, said: "The new vehicles are an impressive sight. They include state-of-the-art technology allowing us to treat roads up to a maximum of 50mph, 10mph faster than earlier models."
But he warned: "We want everyone to travel safely. Drivers should take extra care near gritters, leave a safe distance and only overtake carefully when it is safe to do so and at a reduced speed."
October 1 marked the start of the agency's winter operations.
Mr Smith said: “When the wintry weather arrives, our teams across the country will be ready to work around the clock to keep traffic moving.”
Kent and East Sussex have been allocated 20,000 tonnes of salt. Last winter they used 9,000 tonnes.
Across the country, National Highways has 1,300 specially-trained gritter drivers, 535 gritters (a further 132 are on order for winter 2022/23) and 23 snow-blowers which can shift 2,500 tonnes an hour. It is storing 280,000 tonnes of salt.
It has 127 depots and 250 weather stations across 4,400 miles of motorways and major A roads. Overhead signs will be used to warn motorists of severe weather.
The new lorries meet the latest EU emission standards for heavy-duty CI (diesel) engines known as Euro 6, making them some of the cleanest and most efficient available.
Over the past four years National Highways has replaced 311 gritters. Phase one of the roll-out started in 2018 with 34 vehicles.
Snow and ice
* Stick to main roads
* Keep a snow-kit of ice-scraper, de-icer, warm clothes and blankets and sunglasses, to cope with low winter sun, in vehicle
* Lorries, caravans and motorbikes should slow down and avoid exposed sections
* Keep well back from vehicle in front
* Ease off accelerator if steering becomes unresponsive
* Slow down if the rain and spray reduce visibility
* Switch on fog lights. Do not use full beam as fog will reflect light back
* Pull over and stop if you can't see where you are going.
Drivers should take notice of overhead signs and listen to radio updates.
More information is available here. Or follow @highwaysseast on Twitter.
For all the forecasts, warnings and weather related news, click here.