Gritters are being called out for the first time this winter season in the early hours of tomorrow (1am on Saturday 21st November) as Birmingham’s road surface temperatures are predicted to drop below freezing during the first cold snap.
Birmingham City Council’s highways partner, Amey, launched the city’s winter maintenance service back in October – but unseasonally warm temperatures have kept the vehicles parked in the depot until now.
The city’s fleet of 25 gritters are on standby 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week throughout the winter season, which runs from October until May each year. The last time precautionary gritting started so late in the season was back in 2011, when the first call out wasn’t until the first week of December.
Precautionary gritting is completed when low temperatures are forecast and ice is predicted on road surfaces, meaning the gritters normally go out late evening before the coldest temperatures arrive. Amey also undertakes reactive gritting when required in response to accumulations of snow and ice during very severe weather.
Chris Lucas, Winter Maintenance Manager for Amey in Birmingham, said:
“The gritters are being called into action at 1 am on Saturday morning to treat the 750 miles of Birmingham’s roads covered by our priority winter gritting routes. This includes the busiest roads, bus routes and vital routes in the city as identified by the emergency services.
“We monitor and analyse a range of forecasts to plan call outs so roads are treated when the salt will be most effective, before ice forms. This is normally late evening, so our thanks goes out to our dedicated drivers who work unsocialble hours to help keep the roads safe”.
Due to the unseasonally warm winter we have experienced so far, Chris and his team are keen to remind motorists to be prepared and take precautions now the colder weather has arrived.
Tips for staying safe on the roads this winter:
• When clearing snow, do not use hot water – this will melt the snow but will replace it with black ice!
• Always consider if your journey is necessary when contemplating driving in wintery weather. Check local traffic bulletins and if you have to drive, make sure all windows and lights are clear of snow or frost. Make sure you have de-icer and a scraper with you.
• Adjust your driving to the conditions. Brake earlier and gently and manoeuvre with care. Also take a torch, blanket, some food, warm clothing, a mobile phone and a spade with you just in case you have any problems.
• If you do have to abandon your vehicle in really bad conditions, be careful and try not to cause an obstruction. Emergency vehicles and gritters are large vehicles and may need to get past.
More information on the highways winter maintenance service in Birmingham, including maps of gritting routes, can be found on the city council’s website: www.birmingham.gov.uk/wm