Drivers in the North East are being urged to prepare for winter as gritters take to the roads for the first time this year.
The Highways Agency launched its winter maintenance programme in the region yesterday as temperatures begin to drop.
Motorists are being warned to leave the house prepared after the Highways Agency’s latest research revealed that 26% of drivers in the region do not make any vehicle checks and more than a third of drivers do not carry de-icer.
Phill Beaumont, North East winter services manager for the Highways Agency, said: “We want to take this opportunity to remind drivers that winter is imminent and to prepare their vehicles.
“They need to make sure they have plenty of screen wash and anti-freeze, also allow plenty of time for their journeys as well.”
The Highways Agency is urging drivers to ‘Make Time for Winter’ by preparing themselves and their vehicles to help keep the roads running smoothly.
Phill added: “We are as ready as we can be and whilst we had a very mild October we know it is going to get colder. In icy or snowy conditions it takes 10 times the distance for breaking to work and steering might also be affected.”
Nationally the Highways Agency has more than a quarter of a million tonnes of salt, 15,000 tonnes of which is in the North East.
“That will see us through easily to January, we do not envisage salt stocks to be an issue,” said Phill.
There are also 21 gritting machines in the region to deal with adverse weather during the winter.
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.”
Highways Agency traffic management director, Simon Sheldon-Wilson, added: “We have over 500 salt spreading vehicles, ploughs and snow blowers, and 270,000 tonnes of salt already in stock.
“Using detailed weather forecasts, we treat the road network before road temperatures fall below freezing.
“But that doesn’t mean people should drive as they normally would – they still need to take care, as they would during any kind of adverse weather.”