GRITTING teams across Somerset are getting ready to spring into action to make sure Somerset's roads are safe for motorists.

With cold winter weather fast approaching, Somerset County Council's highways team are monitoring weather forecasts each day ready to react when temperatures plummet.

This year, the council’s fleet of 23 gritters will again treat around 900 miles of road every time ice is expected, with 7,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled at depots across Somerset.

Their priority is to 'keep the busiest routes clear whenever ice or snow is expected' and make sure roads that link major towns, villages and communities on high ground and the important routes across the county open for long distance travel.

They also try to maintain access for emergency services, including fire and rescue, police, ambulance services and routes to hospitals with A&E services, along with principal public transport routes and larger schools.

This year, selected roads around the improved M5 Junction 25 in Taunton have been added to the programme (although the M5 itself, the A303 and the A36 are looked after by Highways England).

Gritters will only get on the road when road surface temperatures are predicted to drop below 1°C and ice or snow is expected.

Precautionary gritting normally takes place before ice can form – so that generally means gritting teams are out in the evening or early morning.

In the event of snow, Somerset County Council will work alongside the emergency services and their other partners to clear the network as quickly as possible.

Councillor John Woodman, cabinet member for highways at SCC, said he would encourage motorists to only travel if they have to in cold weather

"We try and use our brigade of drivers as efficiently as we can and optimise the roads as much as possible during the cold winter months," Cllr Woodman said.

"We have 7,000 tonnes of grit ready to go on our roads. We mix the grit we use with molasses so the grit will stick to the road and it will go further.

"This year the coronavirus pandemic has caused heartbreak for thousands of people and we want to try and avoid a tragedy on our roads by making them as safe as possible for motorists.

"When it is very cold travel only if you really have to, follow our guidance on driving in cold weather conditions and take precautions.

"We want everyone to be a safe as possible on our roads this winter so are taking every precaution we possibly can. I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas and New Year."

For more information about the council's gritting plans visit