Northamptonshire gritters ready for start of winter season with new technology and coronavirus measures
'We’re making sure that we are ready to respond when the cold weather arrives'
Northamptonshire's 20-strong gritting team is on standby for when the cold weather hits as the new season officially starts on Thursday (October 15).
The team has been preparing with the added addition of ensuring drivers are adhering according to coronavirus guidelines while the usual group winter inductions have gone virtual.
This year’s fleet of gritters has enhanced technology meaning only one person is needed in a vehicle, unless there is heavy snow, by providing route data and reporting back to the office to ensure the drivers are on route and safe.
Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for highways and place Jason Smithers said: “We’re making sure that we are ready to respond when the cold weather arrives.
"Keeping the county moving during the winter is a huge task and we have to be ready to tackle whatever weather we get."
Northamptonshire has one of the longest gritting routes in the country and individual roads are be gritted when forecasts predict the weather will drop below 0.5C for that area.
Last year, the team introduced a more cost-effective way of working, by individually assessing routes based on more precise weather forecasts and real-time temperature sensors.
Weather stations and sensors along the roads return temperature readings every 15 minutes and weather forecasts every hour.
Route-based forecasting means gritting does not take place when it is not necessary and allows cost savings to be made.
The team monitors the sensors from 6am to midnight from the highways depot before checking them remotely between midnight and 7am.
Should there be severe weather forecasted in advance then the temperatures are monitored from the depots 24 hours a day.
Cllr Smithers added: “We would always advise that drivers should never assume that a road has been gritted and should drive with caution when there has been a frost.
"Even when a road has received a gritting treatment, the salt requires activation from the movement of vehicles - because a road has been gritted it does not mean that all risk of accident has been eliminated.”
All three depots in Brixworth, Towcester and Wellingborough are fully stocked with tonnes of salt ready to spread and 1500 grit bins have been filled for use on public roads and footpaths.
As stocks run low people can report bins that need refilling via the Street Doctor service at northamptonshire.gov.uk/streetdoctor.
A map showing gritting routes can also be found at northamptonshire.gov.uk/gritting.