Roads Minister Chris Hazzard has reminded all road users to take extra care this winter, as he launches his winter safety service.
From now until April 2017, 300 staff will be on hand to salt the road network that serves around 80% of daily traffic flow and keep traffic moving safely and freely on our main roads. The full winter service fleet of over 130 gritters and 12 specialist snow blower vehicles are also available to be deployed as needed.
Minister Hazzard said: “Now the clocks have changed, darker mornings and evenings and lower temperatures around this time of year make driving conditions more difficult and I want to encourage all road users to take extra care on our roads this winter.
“While we can’t predict the weather winter may bring, the public can be assured that my winter safety service is now up and running and whatever the weather, will be working to keep our main roads open.
“Over 70,000 tonnes of salt is stockpiled and ready to be deployed should the weather impact on the main road network. Reserve stocks of around 20,000 tonnes of salt are also available at strategic locations and additional salt bins are provided on a self help basis on routes not included on the salting schedule.”
As part of the winter safety operation, TransportNI salts the main through routes which carry more than 1,500 vehicles per day. In exceptional circumstances, roads with difficult topography carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 vehicles daily will also be salted. This means that 28% of the road network will be salted and will directly benefit around 80% of drivers.
The Minister continued: “As in previous years, arrangements will be in place to enlist the help of private contractors and local farmers to assist in efforts to clear blocked roads following any heavy snow falls. For now, I would encourage everyone to take some time and prepare for winter. Commercial property owners, in particular, should ensure they have adequate supplies of salt in place to ensure the safety of employees and visitors.
“For those using our roads, I urge you to take personal responsibility and pay attention. Drivers should slow down, never ever drink or take drugs and drive and always wear a seatbelt. In particular, watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders, as they will be much more difficult to see in the dark mornings and evenings.
“As always, my trafficwatch and road safety teams will also continue to offer advice and guidance via social media to all road users, to help the public prepare for winter driving conditions and plan their route. More information is also available in the Winter Service information leaflet ‘Keeping Traffic on the Move During Winter’ available to download at: www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/