A fleet of new look gritters will take to the road this winter following a multi-million pound investment by Highways England.
The first delivery of the new gritters took place last month (October) and, says Highways England, will improve safety for drivers and workers due to the vehicles improved technology, ergonomics and enhanced visibility.
Despite being 26 tonnes and measuring a maximum of 2.5 meters wide, Highways England has seen a number of incidents where gritters have been struck by vehicles.
Research carried out by Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) shows that vehicles stand out more if painted in one block colour and are solid in shape which is where the new design has come from.
As well as a new design, Highways England says that the latest vehicles contain innovative technology, which includes being able to pre-programme gritters with information specific to each gritting route. This enables salt to be spread onto the road automatically, taking into account any specific requirements for bridges, landscape and other road features allowing drivers to give their full attention to driving at all times.
Highways England’s winter fleet manager Jane Wilkins said: “Safety is our top priority and we are always looking at ways we can improve our winter resilience.
“Using the research carried out by TRL and our own data, we have looked carefully at the number of incidents involving gritters to see what more can be done to improve safety and the service we provide.
“The roll out of this £30million programme started this year with 34 new vehicles in East Anglia. The remainder of the 157 vehicles, will be replaced over the next two years.”
Highways England is working closely with gritter manufacturers Romaquip on the roll out of the new fleet.
Romaquip technical director Stephen McKeown said: “We are excited to be working with Highways England, manufacturing a new generation of winter vehicles with numerous safety and technical advances.
“It is a pleasure to work with an organisation that strives to develop and improve their service, actively partnering with us to achieve these goals.
“It is clear to see that the specification of these vehicles has been derived from consciously deciding to improve safety for both operators and other road users, and that the innovation to improve efficiency and functionality has also been thoroughly considered.”
Highways England currently has 535 winter vehicles patrolling the 4,400 miles of motorways and major A roads across the country.