THEY HAVE flashing amber beacons, are 2.5 metres wide and are bright orange, but last year Highways England say 36 gritters were driven into!

Gritters weigh up to 26 tonnes and when they’re spreading salt travel at 40mph. They often travel in the middle lane of a motorway to ensure the right amount of salt is spread to all lanes. But they need public support.

‘Although the vast majority of people support our gritter drivers by leaving a sensible distance and only passing when it’s safe to do so, we do have occasions when people misjudge the situation and end up colliding with one of our vehicles,’ says HE winter and severe weather team leader, Paul Furlong.

‘We have also noticed a growing problem with drivers using the hard shoulder to undertake gritters, risking a collision with stationary vehicles on the hard shoulder and causing a hazard to gritter drivers who need to exit at motorway junctions.

‘The back of a gritter is the most vulnerable area as it’s where the salt spreading equipment is located. If it’s struck it can mean the gritter has to be taken off the road to be repaired, which is costly and could affect critical services in extreme weather conditions.’