New gritters aim to stand out for safety

Highways England has rolled out the first of a fleet of new gritters that employ the latest technology and are designed to stand out in winter conditions.

The first delivery of the new vehicles, which aim to improve safety for drivers and workers through their improved technology, ergonomics and enhanced visibility, took place in October.

Highways England said that despite its gritters weighing 26 tonnes and measuring a maximum of 2.5 meters wide, there have been a number of incidents where they have been struck by other vehicles.

The new design follows research carried out by TRL, which shows that vehicles stand out more if painted in one block colour and are solid in shape.

The new vehicles also contain innovative technology, which includes being able to pre-programme them 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 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 £30m 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 said it is working closely with manufacturer Romaquip on the roll-out of the new fleet.

Romaquip technical director Stephen McKeown said: ‘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.’