Gritters ready as winter weather arrives in Sunderland and Durham

Phill Beaumont, Highways Agency Winter Manager Northeast.'Highways Agency gritter and salt store at Carrville, Durham.
Phill Beaumont, Highways Agency Winter Manager Northeast.'Highways Agency gritter and salt store at Carrville, Durham.
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HIGHWAYS bosses have vowed to help keep motorists on the move this winter.

The Highways Agency, which looks after motor­ways and major A roads, has spent months preparing for the first big chill of the year, which has seen temperatures plummet in recent days.

Now, as motorists brace themselves for a season of snow, ice and potentially perilous driving conditions, the North East branch of the agency has sent its 21-strong fleet of salt spread­ers into action.

It already has up to 15,000 tonnes of grit in storage as part of preparations.

Phil Beaumont, the agency’s winter manager for the North East, said: “We’ve been preparing for this for quite some time. We know what’s coming and we always make sure we’re were ready for it.”

But as well as its major maintenance operation to ensure roads are kept clear, the Highways Agency is also launching its Make Time for Winter campaign to ensure drivers take steps to avoid accidents, delays and breakdowns.

Latest research shows 74 per cent of drivers in the North East and Yorkshire check their vehicles before they travel in severe weather compared to a national figure of 55 per cent.

However, the agency, which provides real-time traffic information using a range of channels, including the web, social media and through national and local radio stations, is urging every driver to take action to ensure they are prepared for driving in winter weather.

Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said: “The Highways Agency does all it can to keep the roads open during severe weather.

“But drivers need to play their part too by making simple vehicle checks, carrying a few important items and planning their journeys according to the weather.

“In very severe weather, drivers need to consider whether their journey is really necessary.”

For further information on the winter campaign, visit www.highways.gov.uk.