As Bournemouth’s long hot summer becomes but a distant memory please spare a thought for the dedicated team of gritter drivers who are on standby throughout the winter months, ready at a moment’s notice to keep Bournemouth moving.
There are 300 miles of roads in Bournemouth and thousands of journeys being made so we have a team of people working, sometimes through the night while you are sleeping, to grit the main routes and help you get where you need to be when temperatures drop.
Gritting is the spreading of rock salt on the road surface to prevent it from freezing in cold weather. We grit roads so that normal journeys to school and work are not disrupted. We decide to grit the roads based upon the latest weather forecast, not from BBC South Today, but from a bespoke weather forecasting system. If we are alerted that, for example, the road surface temperature is due to drop below freezing at 10pm, we’ll go out beforehand to pre-treat the priority roads to prevent them from freezing.
We also use an ‘Ice Prediction and Management System’. Did you know that throughout the county, we have several road sensors which give us accurate and ‘real-time’ road surface and air temperatures? We continually monitor this system and if there are any significant changes to the forecast and predicted weather patterns we will be alerted and can take the appropriate action.
Here are 10 other things you may not know about our gritting operations:
- We have four priority routes that we treat each time we go out
- We use approximately 20 tonnes of rock salt each time we go out
- We have four gritters – (currently unnamed!)
- Our rock salt is treated to aid performance and mitigate the corrosive effects of chloride on the road surfaces
- Our covered barn at Southcote Road depot holds around 1600 tonnes of rock salt – that’s about the same weight as 200 elephants!
- At times of heavy snow-fall we can fit ploughs to our gritters
- It takes two hours to treat our priority network
- Our gritters are fitted with GPS technology so they can be monitored remotely
- The cabs have an audible direction system to keep the driver on the right route
- We actively use Twitter and Facebook to notify you when we are out gritting
Aside from gritting the main routes, we have over 110 salt bins throughout the town. Please use them when you need to treat icy areas, and look out for your vulnerable neighbours during the winter, and offer help to the less able or elderly if needed.
In addition to keeping the roads safe it’s also vital to make sure to drive appropriately for the conditions and ensure your car is winter-ready. I recently chatted to our Road Safety Manager, Richard Pearson, who had this advice to give on how to ensure your vehicle is prepped for winter:
- Make sure your windows are clear before you start your journey
- Get a scraper and add low temperature screen wash to your cars system and check your windscreen wipers are effective
- Use your headlights if light levels or visibility are low
- If temperatures are below freezing or if the road is wet, be aware that there could be black ice and keep your speed down
- Give space to vehicles in front as braking distances may be longer
- Have some warm clothes and soft drink in your car in case you get stuck
- If your battery seems low now it could fail completely in the winter so get it checked and replaced if necessary
- Check your tyre tread meets minimum legal standards and check tyre pressures
Stay safe everyone, wrap up warm and if you see our gritters out and about please give them a wave!
Street Services Manager