Highways England has announced it is ready for winter – and is urging drivers to prepare too, before conditions change.

The company responsible for the country’s motorways and main A roads has a team of 1,300 specially trained gritter drivers, more than 280,000 tonnes of salt and over 500 salt spreading vehicles ready to treat the road network around the clock.

“We care about people getting to their destinations safely and during any severe weather our teams will be working around the clock to keep traffic moving,” said Highways England’s national winter and severe weather team leader, Paul Furlong. “We’re asking drivers to make sure they and their vehicles are also prepared. Before you set out, check your vehicle, the road conditions and the weather forecast. If conditions are poor, and journeys are not essential, consider waiting until the weather gets better – this should improve journeys, and give our gritters a chance to treat the roads.”

To help keep traffic moving, Highways England has nearly 130 winter service depots across the country, and more than 250 environmental sensor stations that provide real-time monitoring of road weather conditions and temperatures.

“It is essential to keep our road network running throughout the winter,” said Roads Minister, Jesse Norman. “Highways England has informed us that they are well prepared for adverse weather, with enough salt to cover 610,000 miles of our motorways. But the expert advice is clear: drivers need to make their own judgements about road conditions. If it doesn’t look safe then they should stay put and travel once weather conditions have improved.”

Highways England urges drivers not to use the hard shoulder to undertake gritters, risking a collision with a stationary vehicle and causing a hazard when gritters try to come off at junctions. Drivers are also asked not to take unnecessary risks this winter and only pass a gritter when it is safe to do so, checking for hazards ahead.