Roads - gritting
Between 1 October and 30 April we work with our contractor Ringway to keep 9,000km of roads - from major principal routes to narrow country lanes - moving during periods of extreme weather.
Winter maintenance is important in keeping road users, pedestrians and the economy moving and in minimising delays caused by adverse weather. Motorways and trunk roads such as the A1, A1(M), A66, A66(M), A64, A168 (Dishforth to Thirsk) and A19 (Thirsk to Crathorne) are the responsibility of Highways England.
When we will grit the roads
We grit our roads in the order below, as resources permit, based on traffic flows and the best use of our gritters.
- Priority one roads will be gritted by 7am.
These include major traffic routes which connect or pass through towns and other major centres of population. They account for 2,300km, or 28 per cent, of our road network.
- Priority two roads will be gritted by 10am.
These generally provide access to local communities. They account for 2,100km, or 25 per cent of our road network.
- Priority three roads will not normally be gritted.
These include roads in housing estates and country lanes. They account for 4,500km, or 46 per cent, of our road network. We will consider treating them if conditions persist for more than 72 hours and resources allow.
Most scheduled buses and over 75 per cent of school buses run on gritted routes, however we are unable to treat all our roads due to the time and cost involved.
For more advice on our winter service, including clearing snow and ice and driving tips, you can read our winter service guide:
- A guide to winter service in the Harrogate area 2015/16 [242kb]
- A guide to winter service in the Kirkbymoorside area 2015/16 [235kb]
- A guide to winter service in the Richmond area 2015/16 [224kb]
- A guide to winter service in the Selby area 2015/16 [195kb]
- A guide to winter service in the Skipton area 2015/16 [220kb]
- A guide to winter service in the Thirsk area 2015/16 [249kb]
- A guide to winter service in the Whitby area 2015/16 [203kb]
You can also view our live weather cameras online here.
How we decide when to grit
We use the latest weather forecasting technology, which includes ice prediction weather stations, a 24-hour weather forecast and road temperature sensor data.
Requesting a change to a route
It is unlikely that any additional roads will be added to our current routes. If you have an exceptional case for amending a route, you can contact us. Any submission would benefit from having the support of your parish or town council and local county councillor.
Salt heaps and salt bins
We provide salt heaps and bins for use on roads and footways in severe weather, but not for use on private property. You can view where our salt heaps and bins are on our online maps. They are placed based on our policy criteria, which include road gradient, severity of bends, usage, and whether or not the road is already gritted. Parish councils can acquire and maintain additional bins at their expense, at a cost of £50 for a bin and an annual £75 charge for up to two refills.
They are replenished by 1 November and a second refill may be carried out mid-season or after significant snowfall.
We may remove bins where salt is being used indiscriminately or on private property. You can buy rock salt from most DIY or garden centres.
Gritting facts and figures
We have an annual gritting budget of £7 million and one of England's largest road networks to look after, second only to the Highways Agency. We have 89 gritters, 130 farming contractors and several snowblowers. We have 55,000 tonnes of salt stored in our barns and there are 10,000 salt heaps and bins around the county. Our gritting network covers 4,400km or 54% of the county's roads and in a typical year our gritters make 6,662 runs. Our gritter crews are on call 24 hours a day and typically start gritting at 5am.
Why haven't you gritted our roads? They were slippery or had snow on them ...
Gritting does not always guarantee an ice-free road surface and salt is less effective the colder it gets. Rain and surface water run-off can also reduce the effectiveness of our gritting actions.
Traffic needs to flow over a treated road in order to grind the salt and activate it and salt alone does not melt snow and ice.
When we treat a road, subsequent snow fall can lay on top of the road surface covering the salt and making it appear that we haven't gritted. Only the cumulative action of traffic grinding the salt into the snow will turn it to slush and clear it. Sometimes it might be below freezing, but we may not grit if there isn't enough moisture in the air to form ice.
Why are you gritting when it's not freezing outside?
Sometimes we grit when the air temperature is above zero if the road surface is colder than the air temperature.