Highways England is prepared for winter

400 telematic systems fitted by Handsfree Group for Highways England specialist vehicles

Spreading the salt

More than 280,000 tonnes of salt and over 500 salt spreading vehicles are ready, around the clock, to help drivers get to their destinations safely. To help keep traffic moving, Highways England has nearly 130 winter service depots across the country, and more than 250 environmental sensor stations that provide real-time monitoring of road weather conditions and temperatures.

And we can definitely say they have been out in full force over the past few weeks and are doing a great job in keeping the roads open and safe.


The Daily Challenges

Dealing with severe winter conditions on such a large road network is a complex operation. But it is a top priority to keep the country on the move. Gritters have a tough and, more often than not, dangerous job.

It isn’t just the physical driving of a very large vehicle in the dark, on icy or snowy roads.  It is being able to follow a planned route efficiently and safely in these conditions and it is about ensuring other road users remain safe whilst gritting is in progress, but also themselves.

“Highways England is urging drivers not to use the hard shoulder to undertake gritters, risking a collision with a stationary vehicle and causing a hazard when gritters try to come off at junctions”. Highways England reports that 16 people lose their lives every year as a result of collisions on hard shoulders or laybys across England.

Staffordshire County Council’s highways lead Helen Fisher said: “Regardless of whether a road has been gritted, motorists need to slow down, take extra care and allow more time for their journeys, as the most important thing is that we all get through winter safely.”


400 Telematics Installations

Handsfree Group were asked to provide their award winning FITAS installation services for a premium telematic system into 30 specialist winter gritting service vehicles in October 2017. Due to the huge success of the installations and how much they have assisted in the fleet operations of the specialist vehicles, a request for a further 370 telematics installations was received.

The Handsfree Group’s highly skilled FITAS certified engineers, working remotely and also from the state-of-the-art Install Hub facility, were able to turn round the fully bespoke installations just in time for the recent cold spell, ensuring maximum safety for both specialist vehicle drivers and the general public. The Handsfree Group are Gold Member FITAS Patrons supporting and installing to the highest level of industry code of practice, being FCS 1362.

Vehicle telematics monitors and maps the location, movements, speed and status of each gritter vehicle giving the Highways Agency the ability to see which roads have been treated, when and how frequently. It also combines on-board diagnostics and cross references how the vehicle’s driver is behaving.

With this data, Highway Agency transport managers can mitigate risk and increase road safety and transportation efficiency dramatically. This telematics implementation improves everyday gritter driving challenges by effectively reporting vehicle activity, while managing driver and public safety.

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