Gritting, ice and snow
See grit route information, grit bin locations and advice on travelling in winter.
We are responsible for providing a winter service on adopted public highways within the county except for motorways and trunk roads.
Select the expandable boxes below for more information.
The purpose of the winter service is to reduce the effects of snow and ice on the roads by treating the highway with salt. The service is essential for public safety and to the national and local economy in maintaining ice free roads.
Routes are split into two types:
The primary routes (shown in red on the map), are routes that are given high priority by the gritters and are treated first. Routes to be treated include:
- The Principal Road Network, Main Distributor roads and Secondary Distributor roads (as defined in the network carriageway hierarchy)
- commuter routes (rural roads carrying more than 2,000 vehicles per day)
- locally important roads in the carriageway hierarchy
- at least one route into each village so far is as reasonably practicable
- major bus routes (in urban areas roads with 4 or more service buses per hour and in rural areas 2 or more service buses per hour)
- 500m from schools and colleges
- emergency service locations - police stations, fire stations, hospitals, and ambulance stations
The secondary routes (shown in blue on the map) are routes that are treated in sever weather conditions such as freezing rain forming ice on surfaces and heavy falling or lying snow. They are treated as long as there are resources available and these resources are not needed for the primary network. The primary routes will be treated first. Routes to be treated include:
- key local, village and estate distributor roads having significant traffic flows
- industrial estate spine roads
- retail estate spine roads
- minor bus routes (in urban areas roads with 3 or less service buses per hour and in rural areas 1 or less service buses per hour)
- school transport routes operated by or for Worcestershire CC
- outside schools and colleges if reasonably practicable
- outside local health facilities
- outside or near to concentrations of people with disability or vulnerability, if reasonably practicable
The council salt 2,371km of the adopted road network. With the available resources and time constraints it is not reasonably practicable to provide the service on all roads or to ensure all surfaces are kept free of ice or snow at all times, even on the treated parts of the network.
Grit bins are available across the county of Worcestershire and maintained with stocks of a salt/grit mixture where they provide the roads in the area with a suitable resource to safety. They are provided for use on the public highway only (including footways).
Who is responsible for the grit bins?
Grit bins will normally be provided and maintained with stocks of salt/grit mixture where they provide a necessary improvement to road safety and benefit to the community.
The council cannot provide a grit bin everywhere. Grit bins are located in strategic positions around the county and are provided for use on the Public Highway only (carriageway and footway). The grit bins are there to help road users, including pedestrians. You may use the salt to treat ice and snow on small areas of the road or footway.
Parish (green bin), Town and District grit bins
Parish, Town and District bins are the responsibility of filling and maintaining these bins are with the relevant Parish, Town or District Council.
More information on gritting
You can clear the snow outside of your own property
The Government produced a Snow Code in 2010 which offers guidance on self-help and clearing snow and ice from pathways. This information is available on the Met Office website.
Why can't the council grit all the roads?
Whilst it would be great to grit all the roads in the county it is simply not possible to do this because of cost and the time that it would take. The council have to make difficult decisions about what roads they can realistically grit, based on the criteria contained within the winter service policy
The Primary Network route is approximately 30% of the road network. The council will not grit private roads or drives.
Motorways and Trunk Roads (M5, M50, M42 and A46) are gritted by the National Highways. Winter driving - how we help you on our roads (National Highways).
When does the council grit?
The council will normally grit the roads when the forecast is for snow or the roads are wet and the roads surface temperature falls below zero. Gritting takes place before frost forms on the roads.
The council use the temperature of the road surface not the air temperature to decide if salting is required. Sometimes on a cold morning, when your car has a layer of frost, the roads may have retained enough heat through the night to prevent them from freezing and no gritting is required.
The council may require to grit twice in a night if freezing temperatures are predicted before and after heavy rain as this will wash the first treatment away. It will take approximately 2.5 hours to complete a salting route.
How do the council know when to grit?
Weather information is obtained from specialist forecasters, roadside monitoring stations and in unpredictable circumstances it may be supplemented by patrol inspections.
The council maintains a contract with an appropriate forecasting organization that provides daily weather forecasts and are updated frequently. In addition, forecasters are available at any time of the day or night to discuss the forecast and changes in conditions.
Additional real-time information is provided by a network of roadside sensor stations around the county that report on air temperature, ground temperature, relative humidity and in some cases provide local site forecasts.
When available forecast information is uncertain or conditions are changing unpredictably, winter service inspectors may be mobilized to report on conditions along pre-determined routes or at specific points of interest.
These sources of information inform treatment decisions that are made by the duty winter service supervisor.
For the latest weather forecast updates visit the MET office website
What is salt?
The council use rock salt on the roads to keep them free of ice and snow. It is used prior to freezing conditions and is a brownish colour because it is unrefined so it is often mistakenly referred to as grit. Salt works by lowering the temperature at which water freezes and can therefore keep a road free of ice below zero conditions.
Salt can work at temperatures down to minus 8 to 10 degrees celsius. Below this temperature salt becomes less efficient and roads can begin to freeze. Grit can be used on the roads but this will be limited to areas where snow and ice already exist on the road and a mixture of salt and grit will provide traction to vehicles and help break up the frozen surface.
Are pedestrian routes gritted?
The council do not generally treat footways as priority is always given to the road network. However, in prolonged periods of adverse conditions footways in town centres will be treated after the road network has been successfully treated.
How can I get more information on gritting?
Throughout the winter period when the gritting is being done you can find out more information on how they are doing through many different radio stations available across the county, some suitable radio stations are:
- BBC Hereford & Worcester 104FM, 94.7FM
- Free Radio 102.8FM
- Heart 97.6FM - 107FM
- The Wyre 107.2FM
- Touch 107.3FM
- BRMB 96.4FM
Travelling in winter
National Highways advice on how to make your journeys as smooth and safe as possible.