Winter Service

Safer Winter Driving’14

Winter Salting Routes – 2014/15

The seven months from October until the end of April are identified as the winter season for KierWSP to monitor and salt the county’s roads as required. This is when all our crews are on standby to deal with the winter weather.

We receive weather forecasts from the Metro group and use our local knowledge of the network to work out what the likelihood of frost or snow is. If necessary, we monitor the situation on an hour-by-hour basis before making decisions to send our crews out to salt the roads.

We receive a morning summary text at 6am each day and then receive a 24 hour forecast at about noon along with an evening update at 5.30pm.

We don’t just rely on forecasts though; we have five weather stations so that we can monitor the road conditions to make sure you can travel in safety.

Despite all of our efforts, winter conditions will still make roads treacherous even if they have been treated. Make sure you are aware of the conditions, reduce speeds and drive with caution. We salt the highway network to help the safe movement of all highway users: buses, cyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

Decisions on what action is to be taken are based on road temperatures rather than air temperatures, and salting is likely whenever road temperatures are 1˚C or below. Salting is normally carried out after the evening peak traffic period or before the morning rush, because frost does not usually affect the road surface until late evening or early morning.

Some roads within the county are salted by other authorities, and consequently the time of treatment may differ.

Why we salt

To make the County’s roads as safe as possible and to reduce delays caused by bad weather and icy road conditions..

Where we salt

In Northamptonshire we have 26 salting routes and ensure that as many villages as possible are linked to our priority routes. A total length of approximately 1,128 miles of road receives precautionary salting. This is just under half of the total network in the county.

The size of the road network, and the fact that it costs the County Council on average £32,000 to carry out one salting, means that the County Council cannot salt all roads.

Priority is given to those roads carrying the highest volume of traffic and where the risk of accidents is greatest.

In addition, certain local roads such as those serving industrial areas, shopping centres and some key roads in towns and rural areas are also salted.

In prolonged adverse weather conditions, that is where the forecast conditions are unlikely to improve for at least 48 hours and the temperature is not expected to rise above freezing within that period, additional roads will be treated provided that roads on the precautionary salting network do not require treatment.

The Motorways and Trunk Roads are the responsibility of the Highways Agency and their Managing Agent: – Aone+.

1,128 miles is the distance from London to Rome

359 miles is a journey from Northampton to Edinburgh

24 hour cover is provided from October to April

It takes 3 hours to salt the priority routes with 26 gritters

Where we salt

We also salt an additional 359 miles of road in prolonged adverse weather conditions. In the event of snowfall, roads will be cleared according to their priority status and need.

The maps on our latest Safer Winter Driving leaflet shows the roads in Northamptonshire to be salted for the winter of 2012/13.

This information is also available on the Northamptonshire County Council website. Click here for the routes and more information.

Please remember that the majority of minor roads will not be salted and, because arrangements very occasionally may not go according to plan, you should never assume that a road has been salted.


  • Local and national radio for travel information and weather forecasts, allowing extra time for your journey if necessary.  BBC Northants – 104.2FM and 103.6FM or Connect FM 92.7 or 107.4.
  • That your tyre pressures are at the recommended level and that the tread
  • depth is correct. Don’t forget your spare!
  • That your lights are clean and in working order.
  • That the wiper system is working effectively.
  • That the washer-bottles are full and contain a suitable additive to prevent freezing.
  • That your battery is in good condition, topped up and fully charged.
  • Your anti-freeze is at the correct level. (Your garage can do this for you).

Before driving off

  • Consider whether your journey is essential.
  • Make sure that all your windows and mirrors are completely clear of ice and condensation.
  • Carry a can of de-icer and a scraper in the car.
  • Cars left outside overnight will benefit from their windscreen being covered over.


  • Ensure you have “outside” clothing with you in case you have to get out of your vehicle
  • Watch out for vulnerable road users – you share responsibility for their safety


  • Do not travel too fast or too close to the vehicle in front. When ice and snow are present drive smoothly, avoiding harsh braking and sudden changes in direction.
  • Keep in as high a gear as possible.
  • Always use dipped headlights when visibility is poor due to rain or snow and when driving
  • in fog.

See and be seen

  • Allow yourself more time for a journey and in severe conditions only travel when it is
  • absolutely necessary.
  • It is better to travel a little further on a main road that has been treated than to use
  • untreated minor roads.
  • Finally, even the most carefully organised procedures can suffer setbacks or mechanical breakdowns and as a result, very occasionally, some roads may not be salted.

Advice for pedestrians and cyclists

  • Pavements and cycleways are not routinely salted but, in times of prolonged icy weather or when snow remains on the ground, salting of some major pavements, e.g. main shopping areas, near hospitals, etc is undertaken. This still leaves the majority of pavements in residential areas untreated.
  • The following points may help when you have to use the pavements and cycleways in wintry conditions:
  • Consider whether your journey is essential.
  • Always wear appropriate footwear. Smooth leather soles make walking treacherous in icy weather.
  • If possible, delay your journey so that temperatures have had a chance to rise and the frost has melted.
  • Avoid using pavements that are in the shade.
  • Even a weak winter sun soon thaws out frost and ice.

Salt bins – why and where?

There are  salt bins located across Northamptonshire, usually sited where there is a steep or hazardous hill, or sharp bends on a road, but do not receive precautionary salting. The bins are for public use to help keep the roads and pavements clear – but the salt is not intended for use on private drives.

If you find a bin which needs refilling please email StreetDoctor here.

For a copy of the Winter Salting Routes leaflet please telephone 0300 126 1000