New technology is helping to ensure gritters are on track this winter.
A trunk road gritter tracker is being launched on the Traffic Scotland website so that people can check where and when gritters have been active on routes in their areas.
The technology, which goes live at the beginning of November when the winter patrols get underway, has been showcased at the Science Centre in Glasgow.
The tracker is just one of the systems that will be used by Transport Scotland this winter to help mitigate the effects of the weather. Investment in other hi-tech equipment, such as our network of a hundred and sixty-one weather stations, is continuing so that the trunk road maintenance companies get the data they need to respond to all types of conditions, including rain and high winds.
Humza Yousaf, transport minister, said: “We strive for on-going improvement in our winter service and this year we are at the Science Centre to demonstrate the technology that we use to try to mitigate all that the weather can throw at us, whether that be ice and snow or rain and high winds.
“We are continuing to invest in innovative equipment, like weather stations so that we can help keep the trunk roads moving.
“The comprehensive network of stations that we have built up are an invaluable tool as they give us an accurate picture of what the real conditions are on the roads, even in some of the most remote locations.
“All of this information is fed into our 24/7 communications network through Traffic Scotland so that road users can make informed decisions about their travel plans and the Trunk Road Gritter Tracker will add to that service.
“While the storms of the last year were high profile, our teams also continued to battle more traditional Winter conditions and we have to prepare for that too. Last year we cleared the trunk roads of ice and snow 11,000 times so we have maintained our salt stocks and we have more winter plant available than ever before, with 208 gritters at our disposal.
“We can’t deliver this comprehensive service without the input of our partners. The Met Office work alongside us at the Traffic Scotland National Control Centre in South Queensferry and we continue to work with Police Scotland to manage incidents in the fiercest of conditions.”
Philip Evans, head of government services at the Met Office, said: “The Met Office is pleased to continue its close working relationship with Transport Scotland by supplying an advisor to work within its control centre during the winter period. By continuing to pool our expertise we can ensure that the Scottish public are well informed and able to prepare for any severe weather that may occur over the winter months.
“Members of the public can also prepare by checking the weather forecast on our website - www.metoffice.gov.uk before setting off on any journeys.”
Chief Superintendent Andy Edmonston, from Police Scotland’s Road Policing Division, added: “We all want to be able to keep moving safely on our roads this winter. A few simple precautions, when taken by drivers to prepare themselves and their vehicles for the winter ahead, will reduce the risk of avoidable breakdowns, incidents or collisions that can cause injuries and lengthy hold-ups on our roads.
“Police Scotland will shortly be setting up a special section on our website where useful information will be posted, alongside a link to a short video on YouTube which shows drivers how to carry out basic, vehicle safety checks. I would encourage you to visit the site and follow the advice given. If you’re unsure about a potential defect or unable to carry out the safety checks yourself, then ask a friend or family member for assistance, or visit one of the many garages across Scotland that offer pre-winter inspection services.
“In bad weather conditions, we recommend people should check relevant social media for road reports and weather updates.”