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Safe travel

What we do

Devon County Council aims to assist safe winter travel in every way that we can, however not everything is under our control or in our remit.

Some of the things we do to help keep the network moving are to:

  • undertake precautionary salting on major roads when there is a risk of ice or snow
  • monitor road conditions and direct resources to where problems are occurring
  • clear the major routes of snow
  • provide roadside salt bins and bags for self-help
  • react to highway flooding, and fallen trees which can be reported online via our report a problem page
  • keep delays to a minimum

You can find out more about what we do in our Winter Service and Emergency Plan.

How do we do it?

The Network Operations Control Centre (NOCC) is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to co-ordinate work on the highway network. It is fully equipped to monitor the effects of winter weather on our roads.

The technology includes a network of roadside ice detectors at strategic locations, which provide information on actual road conditions and are used to help predict when ice and snow may occur. Radar and satellite images are used to track rain and cloud cover across the county, and we have close links with our specialised weather forecasters.

This means that:

  • precautionary salting routes that are freezing can be identified and treated
  • most effort can be directed to the worst affected areas
  • an efficient, cost effective and environmentally sensitive winter service is provided which minimises salt usage

When we salt

Often you will wake up to find frost on your car but will see that the roads have not been salted. This is because the decision is based on road and not air temperatures.

Salting is usually completed before freezing, but rain may occasionally delay treatment leaving roads liable to freezing until they are salted. Salting will take place:

  • when roads may be wet and road temperatures are forecast to be at or below freezing
  • when snow is forecast, but it takes time and traffic for salt to melt snow

Where we salt

2,650 km (1,650 miles) of roads are on the precautionary salting network. This includes major roads and routes to larger settlements, as well as access to emergency services such as hospitals or fire stations to make travelling as safe as possible. Despite this, 80% of roads are not routinely treated.

Details of gritting routes in Devon can be found at (Data Layers>Driver Information>Winter Gritting Routes) or on our primary salting network map.

Primary salting network

The primary salting network is made up of the major routes where the majority of vehicle movements take place and also includes accesses to hospitals, ambulance stations, fire stations, other emergency service establishments, railway stations, airports and secondary schools. The length of the 37 routes which form the primary salting network is 20% of the road network.

The following criteria are used to determine which roads are salted:

  • Strategic routes – all A and B roads and C roads classified as high-speed routes.
  • Traffic flow – routes with February two-way flows greater than 1000 vehicles per day.
  • Settlement population – main access route to settlements with a population of 500 or greater as provided by Devon County Council’s Strategic Intelligence unit.
  • Emergency premises – main access route to 24hr emergency services premises, defined as ‘Emergency premises with 24-hour access’ include: ambulance stations, full-time and retained fire stations, hospitals with 24-hour casualty departments and police stations manned 24 hours.
  • Cottage and community hospitals – main highway access route to strategic cottage and community hospitals as notified to the authority by Devon Primary Care Trust.
  • Secondary schools (including independent secondary schools) – main highway access to secondary schools.
  • Bus routes bus routes with a service interval of at least 15 minutes within any one hour of the day, in one direction of travel or where a combination of multiple bus services meet this criteria.
  • Airports – main highway access to regional airports.
  • Railway stations – main highway access to mainline and branch line railway stations.
  • Adjoining highway authority salting networks – agreement to ensure consistency of action across boundaries.
  • Park and Ride sites – the bus loop of Park and Ride sites.