Posted: Monday 11th December 2017
As winter sets in and the temperatures start to drop we tend to think about cosy nights at home keeping warm, but spare a thought for the army of road workers, gritter drivers and control centre staff who work through the darkness to deal with incidents, repairs, and maintenance to keep our roads safe.
Just like on-call fire-fighters, we have on-call gritter drivers. People like Lloyd Parkes, 55, husband, dad and grandad from Ware. Based at the Ware depot, by day he is a Triage Officer, inspecting roads and scheduling repairs, but anytime gritting is required, usually at night, his role transforms. From the start of October until the end of March, Lloyd is ready to answer the call and get out with his gritter to keep Hertfordshire’s traffic moving. We work a rota system to ensure that our gritter drivers can carry out their daytime roles as well as responding overnight meeting the necessary legal requirements.
Lloyd said “Working over Christmas just comes with the nature of the job. Now my children are grown up, I actually don’t mind working and it means the others with young families can have the day off.”
Usually, when your average person is heading home from a long day at work and looking forward to the evening, Lloyd’s gritting shift is just getting started.
In Hertfordshire, county council Duty Officers closely monitor the weather and inform our depots if the gritters need to be sent out. Gritting runs can be called at any time of day or night but typically a run could start at 7pm. In this case Lloyd would arrive at the Ware depot at 6pm and have one hour to complete safety checks, load his gritter with enough salt, log how much he has on board and begin his designated route by 7pm.
Lloyd added, “I treat about 60 miles of road with my gritter on every outing and I get this done in just under two and a half hours. All drivers are given set routes – and I know mine like the back of my hand. For grit to work as effectively as possible I drive at 40mph on the A10 and even slower on other roads, otherwise the salt may spread too thinly.”
When he gets back, he weighs any leftover salt in his gritter, logs the amount and puts it back into the salt barn. He then washes his vehicle to help prevent any rust from developing, before heading home. Lloyd will remain on call through the night should a second run be required.
Lloyd said, “The call is made on the day as to whether we grit or not. Some nights, we only get a few hours’ notice before we are sent out, but this is not always the case.
“Knowing that I’ve done my bit to keep Hertfordshire’s roads as safe as possible gives me job satisfaction and keeps me going through the night.”
To find out when Lloyd, and all the Ringway gritters have been deployed, you can follow us on Twitter using #grittertwitter on http://twitter.com/Herts_Highways
As winter conditions change and icy weather is forecast, did you know….
- we have 58 gritting vehicles on standby.
- more than 100 staff are trained and prepared to manage the winter service.
- we have 12,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled to use for salting roads and footpaths.
- There are 13 weather recording stations around the county which can warn us about bad weather conditions during winter.
- In addition to the usual winter weather duties during severe snow condition, Hertfordshire County Council operates a ‘snow desk’ from the Integrated Transport Control Centre at County Hall, which manages any severe icy and snowy conditions.
- salt bins are provided in more than 1,000 locations around the county for ‘self-help’ during icy weather.
- we also provide community salt via our self-help scheme to District/Borough and Town/Parish Councils, Schools and Resident and Community Groups.
More details can be found on our website www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/gritting.
Keep up to date with the latest gritting decisions by following the hashtag on Twitter: #grittertwitter