Winter awareness - your gritting questions answered

Published: Wednesday 6 November 2019

A car makes its way down a South Lanarkshire road following snow

For the third day of our winter awareness week, we are looking at how hard the council works to keep South Lanarkshire moving.

Chair of South Lanarkshire Council’s Community and Enterprise Resources Committee, Councillor John Anderson, said: “We are always very clear about the steps we take to try and keep everyone moving during the winter months.

“Obviously the weather can cause some significant problems but the focus today is to answer the questions we get asked most frequently and the reasons behind them.”

Why haven’t you gritted my street?
We tackle the primary routes first. These are:
• routes to hospitals, schools, ambulance depots, fire stations and police stations
• class A and B roads
• roads in Clydesdale that are the only way in and out of towns and villages
• main roads in urban areas

We don’t prioritise most residential streets. We don’t have the resources to grit every street in South Lanarkshire and often once we have finished the primary routes we need to start treating them again, especially if it rains as the grit can be washed away.

We grit about 52% of our roads when ice or snow is forecast which is more than the Scottish average of 47%.

But I haven’t even seen a gritter?
Our primary roads cover over 1190km and they are often cleared by our crews at night so often you won’t see them as they can’t be everywhere at the same time.

I saw a gritter and it wasn’t even spreading. What’s the point?
We never send gritters out empty but they will run out of salt when they are on their rounds and will have to go back to their depot. Sometimes if the weather only requires a dusting of grit it will be fine so not that noticeable to passersby.

The only gritter I’ve seen was parked in a layby?
Our drivers have to take breaks as they work long shifts.

Why aren’t you filling the grit bins?
We are filling them but they empty quickly during bad weather.

I have already asked for a grit bin but you haven’t delivered it?
We are working to keep existing grit bins refilled and we act on requests for new bins where appropriate.

The roads are white – why haven’t you gritted?
Grit is meant to stop ice forming on the road surface. Grit will generally not stop snow lying on roads, unless the snowfall is very light indeed.

When snow falls it will generally lie on roads and we need to plough and then grit again to clear it.

Grit also relies on the mechanical action of tyres to make it work well. That is why in snow conditions the tyre tracks turn black while much of the rest of the road remains white. 

In very heavy snow conditions our grit lorries add coarse material such as sharp sand to the rock salt to give traction for vehicles and to help the break-up of snow layers.

My road is supposed to have been gritted but it’s still icy?
Even when a road has been gritted ice can still form. For example, a shower of rain after we have gritted can wash the salt off the road surface and it can then freeze. Or, a drainage problem on land next to it may cause water to run across the road and again wash salt off. For these reasons great care is always needed in sub-zero conditions.

You can find your nearest grit bin on our Grit bins page. You can also use our Customer services online form to request a grit bin to be filled or to request a new grit bin in your street.

Before winter starts, it’s a good idea to visit your local Roads depot and pick up a bucket of salt which you can use when you need it. Remember and take an empty bucket though. You can find your local Roads Depot at:

• Hawbank Road, East Kilbride
• Carlisle Rd, Larkhall
• Carlisle Rd, Lesmahagow
• Carnwath, just off B7016

For more information see the Roads in winter section.