Driving round the Earth twice to keep Oxfordshire roads safe


Spring has sprung but for some in Oxfordshire ‘winter’, which has involved driving 47,016 miles, is only just drawing to a close.

Winter, in this case, is the time when our gritting crews are on standby to get out on Oxfordshire’s roads to spread salt and deal with potential icy conditions.

Since October 2018 the crews have been out on Oxfordshire’s roads 39 times, covering a total of 47016 miles – that’s just under twice round the Earth – using more than 7,400 tonnes of salt.

During each gritting run we salt approximately 1,200 miles which is the equivalent of travelling from London to Iceland, this being approximately 43 % of Oxfordshire’s network.

The last day of the season this year is 5 April, although if the weather takes an unseasonal turn the crews will still turn out.

Long distances driven to tackle ice on Oxfordshire’s roads

Each gritting run takes the team on a combined run equivalent to driving from London to Iceland.

The Oxfordshire winter team numbers 28 including drivers and support staff working out of depots at Drayton and Deddington and a smaller satellite depot at Woodcote.

The end of March means that the drivers and support team stand down until October having spent the winter months, as well as a bit of Autumn and Spring, doing their day job while keeping an eye on the weather forecasts so that they can swing into action.

Sean Rooney, Oxfordshire County Council's service lead for highway maintenance, said: “Our gritting team have again done an excellent job throughout the winter.

“Every year they deal with whatever the weather has to throw at them and make sure that the salt gets out on the roads. And we must not forget that they also have day jobs helping to maintain and fix Oxfordshire’s roads – they are a hard-working and committed bunch.

“I’d like to thank everyone for the work that they do during the harshest of weathers and often in the middle of the night when most people are still in bed, so that we can get where we need to be safely.”