Gritting exposed: The truth behind winter maintenance in Derby

Published: 16 November 2022

Characters with snow shovels and gritter in background

We're preparing in case of ice and snow this winter

The warm weather may seem like a distant memory, but we started our preparations for the coming winter during the summer to make sure we’re able to keep the city moving in colder weather.

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 the summer period, the salt barn at our Stores Road Depot was replenished and is currently holding over 4000 tonnes of molasses covered salt (the molasses is a by-product of sugar production and is also environmentally friendly). The molasses covered salt, commonly called grit, is what we use on the roads to keep them from freezing and being unsafe during cold weather. Our current stock is more than enough to keep the 169 miles of roads we treat, safe and 203 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. You may have seen them around the city last year! 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 high footfall footways such as City Centre and outside Royal Derby Hospital free from ice and snow 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 from these monitoring stations even helps our forecaster, DTN, 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 we monitor the weather stations 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; so make sure to follow us to keep in the loop.

We also share our gritting information with our neighbours at Derbyshire County Council and National Highways. 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, Leisure and Public Spaces said:

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 vehicle – 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 - 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.

For more information about gritting, grit bins and advice for driving in icy and snowy conditions visit our website.

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