This is the time of year UK haulage companies, independent road transporters, couriers and commuters tend to look forward to the least. Indeed, the near perpetual darkness, plummeting temperatures, unpredictable snow flurries and resulting ice makes the onset and duration of winter a very testing time for anyone who relies on Britain’s roads to make a living.
Whilst those in charge of the country’s infrastructure and inclement weather countermeasures can be pretty sure some kind of extreme winter weather will arrive, the nature of the UK’s climate is such that predicting exactly when and where it will hit is a far from easy thing to do. Because of this, it is absolutely vital the authorities – as well as transport companies in the UK – do not become complacent, and keep robust contingency plans in place to deal with any eventuality.
Central to this of course is keeping the nation’s road networks operating as efficiently and safely as possible. Needless to say, the Department for Transport (DFT) has a large part to play in this respect. Fortunately, the latest word from the DFT is that it has taken adequate action to ensure the country enters the 2013 to 2014 winter season well prepared.
The DFT claims to have a substantial national strategic salt reserve as well as robust distribution processes in place. The findings of a recent salt audit suggest local highway authorities are well underway in restocking salt supplies and early analysis suggests that on the whole, the UK will enter the winter season with a good supply. This is encouraging and indicates the authorities are continuing to place orders with domestic salt suppliers and are receiving salt stocks. Moreover, this also shows that the salt supply chain is also in a much better position than it was perhaps a few years ago.
The Highways Agency
The Highways Agency has just launched this year’s winter driving campaign ‘Make time for winter’. This campaign has been created to put extra emphasis on safety and the importance of good vehicle maintenance, as well as highlight the need for drivers to take more responsibility for their own actions.
In practical terms, the Agency now has a fleet of more than 500 winter vehicles it can call upon to treat motorways and major ‘A’ roads around the clock in order to keep strategic routes open in all but the most extreme of circumstances.
Of course, it needs to be noted that, when sudden spells of very severe weather – especially heavy snow – occur in areas where heavy traffic is present, it is not always possible to prevent congestion and delays.
Therefore it’ is essential that all road users – regardless of whether they are commuters, fleet couriers or HIAB lorry hire drivers – give Highways Agency operatives and contractors the space to do their jobs when there are bouts of severe weather, as this will enable them to treat the roads quickly and, hopefully, minimise overall disruption.
About the author – Bo Heamyan blogs regularly about travel and transport issues and enjoys nothing more than extolling the virtues of the often underrated UK haulage industry on leading websites like DW-Transport.co.uk.