WITH temperatures now falling and darker mornings and evenings, the Department for Infrastructure’s winter safety service is fully operational and ready to keep people moving on our roads.
Northern Divisional Roads Manager David Porter confirmed arrangements for the local area saying: “At this time of year darker evenings and lower temperatures can make driving conditions more difficult and we advise all road users to take extra care.
“The Department’s winter safety service is up and running and, whatever the weather, we will be working to keep our main roads open. Over 80,000 tonnes of salt is stockpiled across Northern Ireland and ready to be used when ice is forecast.
“In Northern Division, from now until April 2019, we will have 78 staff on standby to salt main roads, helping drivers to cope with wintry conditions.
“Salt barns and stockpiles are being filled to maximum capacity in the Division which encompasses the council areas of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Mid and East Antrim and Causeway Coast and Glens.
“When ice or snow is forecast, we have 38 gritters available which can salt the main network in just over three hours, a massive logistical exercise that costs around £20,000 each time it takes place.
“As in previous years, arrangements are in place to enlist the help of contractors and local farmers to assist in efforts to clear blocked roads in the event of significant snow.”
The Department is advising all drivers to exercise caution and drive with due care and attention in the more challenging conditions that winter can bring.
Road surface temperatures are usually a few degrees lower, so drivers should not rely on in-car temperature sensors as an indicator of possible frost/ice.
Mr Porter continued: “Even with the most careful and thorough planning, the use of special Met Office forecasts and the latest ice prediction technology, winter service is a battle against the elements and ice-free roads cannot be guaranteed.
“We all need to be mindful of the changing conditions and adjust the way we drive, ride or cycle to ensure it is appropriate for the conditions.
“The best advice is in the Highway Code – take extra care even if roads have been salted, be prepared for road conditions changing over short distances and take care when overtaking gritters.”
The Department’s Trafficwatch and Road Safety teams will 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/publications/dfiroads-winter-service-information-leaflet
Further advice on driving in adverse weather conditions is available on nidirect at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/driving-adverse-weather