Drivers are being warned that they could be putting their lives at risk if they use the hard shoulder to undertake gritters.
Highways England has launched a new winter road safety campaign to highlight the problem. This comes after gritter drivers noticed a growing problem with road users veering into the hard shoulder to avoid being struck by salt, risking a collision with a stationary vehicle and causing a hazard when gritters try to come off at junctions.
The new campaign was launched at Highways England’s Coleshill depot, where Roads Minister Andrew Jones was visiting to learn more about our winter operations.
He said: “Transport is absolutely critical to our thriving economy which is why we need to ensure the network can cope with winter weather. Highways England will be working around the clock to keep our major roads clear.
“The government is also closely monitoring resilience across road, rail and airports to ensure Britain can keep moving in the event of extreme weather.”
Gritters usually travel at 40mph in the middle lane when they are spreading salt on a three lane motorway, treating the lane they are in and one lane on either side. Drivers are being advised to only pass a gritter when it is safe to do so, avoiding using the hard shoulder and checking for hazards ahead.
The latest statistics show that, on average, 16 people lose their lives every year as a result of collisions on hard shoulders or in laybys across England, and 45 suffer a serious injury. Drivers are being asked not to take unnecessary risks this winter to help keep the region’s motorways and major A roads moving and safe.
Gritter driver Phill Cheshire, based at Highways England’s Coleshill depot, said: “We appreciate that nobody wants to be stuck behind a large vehicle travelling at 40 or 50mph, but in this case, it really is for the benefit of road users.
“I’d ask drivers to plan their journeys properly and leave adequate time for travel this winter. I’d also urge people to stay safe and not use the hard shoulder to undertake.”