How, when and where we grit

A gritting lorry being filled with grit

What is gritting?

Gritting is the spreading of rock salt on the highway to prevent it freezing in cold weather. We grit the highway to help minimise travel disruption and keep the flow of traffic moving along.

How can I request gritting?

You can make a gritting request using our gritting request form or by calling 01274 431000 and using the gritting request option.

Which roads do you grit?

We have a priority network that we monitor and grit. This includes bus routes, roads that carry the highest amount of traffic and includes access to hospitals and schools.

During especially bad snow conditions we may use snow ploughs on priority roads instead of gritting.

You can find out more in our Winter Policy.

Am I on a gritting route?

If you would like to know which roads are on the priority network you can view gritting routes via our gritting routes map.

What if I'm not on a gritting route?

We always grit the priority routes first but where possible we will also consider gritting requests for other streets and attend if resources allow.

You can make a gritting request using our gritting request form or by calling 01274 431000 and using the gritting request option.

How will I know when you are going to grit?

We post information about gritting on our Facebook account and our Twitter account (you may need to be logged in to Twitter to view our Tweets).

Follow us on social media for information about gritting, service disruptions and winter weather updates.

You can also visit our service disruptions page.

I live in a cul-de-sac. Why is it never gritted?

Our priority network is designed to keep traffic flowing throughout the district. Cul-de-sacs have no through traffic and often have parked vehicles and are therefore inaccessible to our gritting wagons.

Can I clear the roads or paths myself?

You can clear snow yourself but you should be careful not to make conditions worse by using liquids that may later freeze.

Read more information about clearing paths on the GOV.UK website.

When do you fill up the grit bins?

We refill the grit bins before and during the winter period when time and resources allow. You can make a request to refill a grit bin. Please read our grit bin policy before using the gritting request form

Can I use the salt from the grit bins?

The rock salt in the roadside grit bins is for use on the highway. Please don’t use it for private access or on your own property or we may not be able to replenish the stock.

Can I get rock salt from a Council depot?

No. We maintain our stocks for treating the priority network. You can buy rock salt from DIY stores. Sand can be used as an alternative to rock salt.

What if there is an emergency or I need medical help or treatment?

In emergency situations the Police, Ambulance or Fire services can contact us directly to request assistance.

If you have urgent medical treatment scheduled and are concerned that you may be unable to attend due to weather conditions you should contact the hospital in the first instance.

The road hasn’t been gritted. What is the delay?

Gritting wagons can be delayed at busy times when we are experiencing a high volume of traffic on the network.

Gritting wagons are classed as Heavy Goods Vehicles and are not easy to manoeuvre in small spaces especially on highways with little off-street parking.

The drivers are alone, and may well be working in the dark during poor weather or visibility. Not all streets are accessible to our gritting wagons for these reasons.

When do you grit the roads?

Our team is put on standby from the end of October to the end of April. Using information about the weather and road conditions from a number of sources (Meteogroup, weather stations, and visual inspections of road conditions) our Highways managers will decide whether to take action and grit.

How do gritting wagons spread the salt?

Rock salt is spread out of the back of gritting wagons by a spinner which is fed by the rock salt on a conveyor belt. The rate and speed of spraying is controlled by an electronic system in the cab of the gritting wagon. This allows the driver to use different settings and information is fed back to the driver via a screen in the cab.

Our drivers are trained to use this system to adjust the width and the angle of delivery according to the kind of road and the conditions.

What do you use to grit?

We usually use rock salt which is mined in Cheshire. This looks red or orange in colour due to dirt and natural impurities in the salt.

How do you grit?

To be most effective, salt should be spread onto the road surface before the road becomes icy or snow starts to fall. This is known as precautionary salting.

It takes the gritters approximately three hours to spread salt on the main gritting routes. So we aim for the gritters to set off before sub zero or snowy weather is forecast to arrive. This will often be done in the evening or early morning and so you may not see gritters working. It may not be obvious that gritting has been done as to work properly, the salt has to dissolve to form a salty solution on the road and as such is not clearly visible.

When rain is forecast before any sub-zero temperatures the start time for gritting priority routes across the district becomes more difficult to predict. The gritting of priority routes must wait until the rain has stopped or the salt will be washed away and have no effect. For this reason it may not always be possible to spread salt on all of the roads included in the gritting routes before the rain freezes or the snow starts to settle.

What is the grit that you use?

The rock salt used by the Council is conventional 10mm rock salt. 

During a normal precautionary grit, the rock salt is spread at a rate of 15g/m2, but this can be increased to cope with worsening weather conditions. In snow conditions rock salt is spread at a rate of 20 to 30g/m2. All rock salt used by the Council is to the appropriate British Standard.

How long does it take to cover the gritting routes?

This is the period between vehicles leaving the depot and the completion of the treatment on the Precautionary Gritting Route. The target time is 2½ hours and should be completed prior to ice forming on the network. If treatment coincides with peak travel periods, gritters will become delayed or stuck in the traffic they are trying to assist. The time taken for snow clearance is also dependent on prevailing weather and traffic conditions.

What happens when it snows?

We still try to grit to slow the rate of snow settling and to prevent snow ‘sticking’ to the road. We apply more salt when it is snowing, to prevent compacted snow forming ice. But if the snow starts to settle the salt will have much less effect and if the snow becomes deeper it will have virtually no effect. In these circumstances we have to plough and use a combination of snow ploughing and gritting to clear the roads.

How many gritting vehicles do you have?

We currently have a fleet of 34 gritting vehicles.

If you find yourself behind a gritting wagon please keep well back, be patient and do not overtake unless necessary and safe to do so.

Weather forecasting

To be most effective, the treatment should be spread before ice forms or snow settles. Anticipating these conditions, and reacting correctly, depends on a mixture of local knowledge and experience, good local weather forecasts and an awareness of the current road condition, for example, is it wet, dry or previously treated.

In addition to receiving weather forecasts, the Council has two weather stations, one at Queensbury and one at Silsden. There are sensors contained within the road adjacent to the stations, providing surface and air temperatures and other useful meteorological information.