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Drivers warned over road safety with potential gritter driver shortage on the horizon

Drivers warned over road safety with potential gritter driver shortage on the horizon

Road users are being told to be cautious as temperatures plummet, particularly because of a potential shortage of drivers to grit the roads.

As we enter winter, temperatures drop and the risk of snow, ice, and adverse weather conditions increases.

This is true in any year, and you’re likely to have the ice-scraper on hand, the heating on max, and a pair of gloves at the ready.

Once you’re onto A-roads and motorways, you’re generally in the clear, thanks to the work of the gritters early in the morning…

Councils warn of gritter driver shortage 

Local authorities have warned that as an extension of the driver shortage in the HGV, logistics, and transport sectors, they’re having problems recruiting the requisite number of drivers to operate their gritters.

So, Gritty McGritface and the rest of the humorously named fleet of gritters that each local council operates might not make it out of the forecourt – even when the inevitable happens and we’re faced with half a foot of snow.

All in all, it means that driving conditions might be a bit more dangerous when the temperature nears (and goes beyond) 0 degrees.

And the shortage could extend well into 2022…

What’s the situation?

As local councils are having problems recruiting and retaining drivers for a range of jobs, most notably bin lorry drivers, there is a knock-on effect.

Since driving grit lorries is an essential, though not regular, part of each council’s fleet operations, the shortage of drivers has begun to bite.

The result is that as they ramp up attempts to recruit drivers, they are warning drivers to be extra cautious on the roads since fewer roads might be gritted.

The likelihood is that gritters will focus on key transport routes, so motorways, A-roads, and link roads will all be top of the agenda, while B-roads and more residential areas might drop further down the list.

It means that fleet vehicles should be generally okay, but they may run into issues in adverse weather conditions in more remote and residential areas – so extra precautions are advisable.

What next for the driver shortage?

It feels like the driver shortage has been in the news forever.

While the situation hasn’t proved as problematic as first feared, there has been supply chain issues as a result of the pandemic.

The fuel delivery crisis in autumn affected us all, even if you managed to stay away from the pump for as long as possible, the situation escalated to the point where the army was called in to make deliveries of fuel.

And as you know, salaries for drivers have rocketed in recent months, with demand outstripping supply by a level we’ve not seen before…

That means councils are struggling to compete with private sector businesses for drivers since wages are more regulated and are not profit-based.

Councils have been planning for several months but it’s always prudent to ensure that you take extra care in adverse weather conditions, especially with the roads being busy around the festive season and in the New Year.