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Thousands of gritters on hand to tackle freezing weather

The RAC Foundation warned drivers not to expect every road to be clear of snow and ice despite the size of the fleet.

Almost 4,000 gritters are available to tackle the cold blast hitting the UK, according to new analysis.

Many of these vehicles can be fitted with ploughs to clear away fallen snow, but there are also 500 dedicated snow ploughs which can be mobilised to keep routes open.

The RAC Foundation, which compiled the figures, warned drivers not to expect every road to be clear of snow and ice despite the size of the fleet tackling the conditions.

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Gritting during skid prevention and safety training (Rui Vieira/PA)

The motoring research charity’s analysis of DVLA data revealed there are 3,238 gritters in England, 431 in Scotland, 105 in Wales and 64 in Northern Ireland.

England also leads the way on snow ploughs with 236, compared with 72 in Scotland and 27 in Wales. There were no figures for Northern Ireland.

Regionally, Yorkshire and Humberside has the most gritters at 795, while London has the least at 42.

Motorists need to be on their guard and ... be ready to ask themselves: 'Is my journey really necessary?' Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation director

Most of the vehicles are operated on behalf of councils to clear local roads or government agencies to keep motorways passable, although some are deployed elsewhere such as at airports.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said the figures show that “lessons have been learned” after officials were “caught on the hop” by bad weather in the winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11.

He went on: “Even with the scale of the gritting fleet poised for deployment it would be unrealistic to expect every road to be kept clear of snow and ice at all times.

“Motorists need to be on their guard and if the snowfall is as deep as some forecasters predict, be ready to ask themselves the question: ‘Is my journey really necessary?'”

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