Roads Minister reminds motorists to take care driving ahead of adverse weather

Date published: 11 January 2017


Roads Minister Chris Hazzard is reminding motorists to take extra care while driving ahead of forecast adverse weather.

Snowy road conditions

The Department’s winter safety service has been operational since early November and will continue to monitor the weather and salt and clear roads where necessary.

Minister Hazzard said:

"Weather predictions for the next few days are for wind and snow and this is likely to make driving conditions more difficult.  I want road users to be assured that my winter safety service, whatever the weather, will be working to keep our main roads open.  I want also to remind road users although main roads will be treated they still need to take extra care.

“Over 70,000 tonnes of salt is stockpiled and ready to be deployed should the weather impact on the main road network.  Reserve stocks of around 20,000 tonnes of salt are also available at strategic locations and additional salt bins are provided on a self help basis on routes not included on the salting schedule.”

As part of the winter safety operation, TransportNI salts the main through routes which carry more than 1,500 vehicles per day. In exceptional circumstances, roads with difficult topography carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 vehicles daily will also be salted. This means that 28% of the road network will be salted and will directly benefit around 80% of drivers.

Arrangements will also be in place to enlist the help of contractors, including farmers, to clear blocked roads and TransportNI has introduced enhanced communication arrangements and priority secondary salting to rural schools that are most affected by wintery weather conditions. 

Minister Hazzard continued: 

“Even with the most careful and thorough planning winter service is really a battle against the elements and ice-free roads cannot be guaranteed.  Motorists have to play their part by taking extra care during wintry conditions. The best advice is in the Highway Code – drive with care even if roads have been salted, be prepared for road conditions changing over short distances and take care when overtaking gritters.

“As always, my trafficwatch and road safety teams will also 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:  DfI Roads - winter service information leaflet.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. During periods of prolonged snow, all gritters will be fitted with snow ploughs and efforts directed to clearing snow from motorways and the trunk roads, before moving to other main roads and the busiest urban link roads
  2. The operation will continue until all roads are cleared, but this may take some time, even with all resources deployed.  In very deep snow, TransportNI will use its snow blowers, the latest of which can shift 1,600 tonnes of snow an hour.
  3. TransportNI Divisions have local arrangements in place:
    • Western Division which encompasses the council areas of Mid Ulster, Fermanagh and Omagh, and Derry City and Strabane will have 68 staff on standby and 34 gritters available
    • Northern Division which encompasses the council areas of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Mid and East Antrim and Causeway Coast and Glens will have 78 staff on and 38 gritters available.
    • Southern Division which covers the council areas of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon and Newry, Mourne and Down have 74 staff on standby and 31 gritters available
    • Eastern Division which encompasses the council areas of Belfast, Lisburn, and Castlereagh has 61 staff on standby and 27 gritters available
  4. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office on 028 9054 0007 or email: . Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.
  5. Follow the Department on Twitter @deptinfra

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