Somerset gritters rack up 70,200 miles in turbulent year

Somerset County Council’s gritting teams are standing down season after travelling the equivalent of nearly three times around the world this winter.

The fleet of 23 gritters were needed on 66 occasions when freezing temperatures were forecast, treating around 900 miles of road each time to help prevent ice forming with 1842 route actions in total. This included additional gritting to ensure safe passage to vaccination and testing sites.

The team covered 70,200 miles during the 2020/21 season, a significant increase from previous years when they covered 44,000 miles in 2019/20 and 32,800 miles in 2018/19.

The lowest road temperature was recorded at -6.1 degrees in the Mendip Hills on 10th February 2020.

During the season, more than 7,500 tonnes of salt was used – with additional salt ordered to maintain stock levels. April’s unseasonably cold weather meant the season had to be extended by two weeks due to persistent cold temperatures.

This was all done under strict COVID-19 protocols with shielding and self-isolation providing the team an extra challenge.

The team ensured additional gritters and routes were sourced and implemented on the network to assist with journeys to vaccination and testing centres across the county.

Furthermore, two weather stations were replaced as the council continues to invest in infrastructure to support more accurate weather forecasting and decision-making.

Councillor John Woodman, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “In a challenging year, our highways team have done a terrific job throughout the winter, often working long, unsociable hours to help keep our roads safe for essential journeys, like key workers and our emergency services.

“The team of almost 100 people worked together to ensure our network was safe and were ready to respond wherever and whenever bad weather hit, going the extra mile to ensure people could safely travel to vaccination and testing sites.”

Councillor John Woodman

“I’d like to thank them on a job well done.”

To read about a typical day in the life of a gritter driver, please visit:

You can also find out more about Somerset County Council’s winter maintenance programme, including maps of all the roads treated, at