Gritting exposed: The truth behind winter maintenance in Derby

Published: 16 November 2021

Characters with snow shovels and gritter in background

Gritting Derby teams have been preparing for winter

Summer may seem like a distant memory, but here at Derby City Council, preparations for the coming winter started as early as April.

So how do we prepare for winter at Derby City Council, and how can you make sure you’re ready in case of snow and ice?

Over summer, the salt barn at the Stores Road Depot was restocked and is holding over 4000 tonnes of molasses covered salt (the molasses is a by-product of sugar production and is environmentally friendly). This is more than enough to keep the 169 miles of roads we treat, safe and 192 grit bins across the city full for an average winter.

Our main fleet of four gritters all have technology, which automatically salts the route, whilst the driver focuses on driving. If things turn snowy, we can quickly attach snow ploughs to the front of the gritters. Hogzilla, the Multi-hog is also part of our gritting team. So, when Hogzilla isn’t busy helping to repair roads, it will be keeping footways and the city centre free of ice using special liquid de-icing solution.

You’ve probably never noticed them, but Derby and Derbyshire are dotted with a network of weather monitoring stations that check everything from air temperature to how damp the road surface is, and beginning on the first of October, these stations get checked no less than three times a day, every day.

Our data even helps our forecaster provide a detailed weather forecast for the city and neighbouring county. This way, if it’s looking like it might be cold (and damp) enough for frost or ice to form on the road surface, we can mobilise our fleet of gritters to keep the roads in a safe condition for driving and keep the city moving. If the weather forecast is looking particularly cold or snowy, then these weather stations are monitored 24/7.

If we’re going out gritting, we’ll share updates on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #GrittingDerby to keep you up-to-date.

We also share our gritting information with our neighbours at Derbyshire County Council and National Highways (formerly Highways England). However, timings of gritting may vary as you travel around the country. So please do not take it for granted that if Derby’s roads have been gritted, that roads in neighbouring areas have also been gritted or vice versa.

Councillor Jerry Pearce, Cabinet Member for Streetpride and Public Spaces commented:

“Gritting is a key part of keeping Derby moving during the colder weather. The teams do fantastic work and are often out overnight whilst most of us are tucked up at home.
However, there are times where gritters will be out when there is more traffic on the road. If you spot one of our vehicles, please give way and give the driver a wave.”

If you’re planning any kind of travel at all over the winter period, make sure you’ve got an emergency kit in your car – especially if you’ve got long trips planned. This kit should contain essential items such as:

  • Any medication you or passengers may need
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Hats, gloves, scarves and blankets
  • A shovel, in case you need to dig your car out
  • A first aid kit
  • Sunglasses – yes, really! Sun glare on snow can cause accidents due to reduced visibility
  • A pair of walking boots
  • A road atlas, because you never know when technology may let you down
  • Jump leads
  • A portable phone charger
  • A torch.

You can either create your own winter kit, or they can be bought from places such as the AA or the RAC.

More information about gritting and advice for driving in icy and snowy conditions can be found on our website.

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