For those keen motorists out there I’m sure that you noticed that when the bad weather at the back end of 2009 came along the highways agency made a noticable change to the motor signs that warned drivers that road treatment was being carried out.

In order to find out the reasoning behind this we contact the Highways Agency and below is our e-mail and their reply. We hope that this provides you with enlightenment!

Dear Sir / Madam,

I would class myself as a motorway “Power user” and as such feel that I have observed a change in motorway sign notices and was wondering why there has been a change in terminology.

For as long as I remember the motorway road signs have read “Gritting in Progress” but since winter 2009 I noticed that these have changed to “Salt Spreading”. Whilst I appreciate that there is no grit actually involved in the process of protecting our highways I just wanted to understand the reason for the change in wording and whether there was more to it other than to better reflect what was actually being done?

I appreciate that you may be very busy with enquiries at the moment so there is no rush for a reply but I would appreciate a response when time allows.

Best wishes


Now considering the current weather conditions I was suprised to receive a reply back within 7 days of my initial enquiry and here is their response!

Dear Administrator.

Thank you for your e-mail to the Highways Agency Information Line of 07/01/2010 in which you raise the following issue;

The reason for the change of terminology to “salt spreading”.
In answer to your e-mail I am able to provide the following response;

In the United Kingdom, salt (sodium chloride) is specified for general use as a de-icing agent on highways. In the past, grit (sand and small stones) was sometimes spread on roads to give vehicles a better grip on snowy or icy surfaces. The crushed rock salt that we now use is still routinely described as ‘grit’, and our winter fleet as ‘gritters’. Although commonly used, those terms are inaccurate, hence the change of terminology.
Should you have any further questions about the above issue or any other Highways Agency related issues please contact us via e-mail or telephone on 0845 7 50 40 30.

Yours sincerely.

Iain Ross

Tel: 08457 50 40 30

Remember to keep your screenwash topped up instead of using plain water as in these cold conditions your windscreen washer bottle and pipes can freeze up which causes a couple of problems

  1. With everything frozen you won’t get any fluid out when you come to use your winscreen washer jets which will cause your windscreen wipers to just drag across your dry and dirty screen
  2. The freezing action can cause the windscreen washer bottle and pipes to split (I have first hand experience of this!)
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