‘The gritters are out’. Yes, it’s that time of year again, where the snow starts to fall and people start to get fidgety about the roads. At this moment, gritter lorries are making their rounds across England, Scotland and Wales, battling to make the roads a safer place for determined motorists. In Scotland, you can even track their amusingly named gritting lorries (our favourites are Gritty Gritty Bang Bang, Luke Snowalker and Gritty Gonzales) on a map to see if your area has been cleared yet. But what you might not know is that gritters are most important before the snow and the ice, and not after.
Gritter lorries are the UK’s protection against ice, snow and bad weather. They are dispatched by councils and private companies whenever the weather forecast (or the sky) predicts ad weather. They work by dropping large form rock salt on the roads before the ice and snow have a chance to form. There are no fancy extra ingredients added – what they spread is pure salt – just like you would use on food at home – but bigger. It’s stored in a big hopper on the back of the lorry, which has a flue mechanism attached to a wide dustpan shaped platform (known as an impeller). A motor pulls the salt through the flue, and the impeller ensures it is spread evenly across the road’s surface.
Salt is the perfect substance to grit roads in winter for 2 reasons. First is the fact that the chemicals in salt melt snow and ice, preventing them from ‘sticking’ to the road’s surface and melting anything that’s already formed. The second is that it’s rough and coarse, creating the perfect grippy texture for cars and vans to drive on. It’s a time-consuming process to distribute it – since it has to be spread evenly over all of the roads surface, but ultimately it’s worth it to ensure the safety of general road users and prevent accidents.
So who drives these gritting lorries? After all, it’s the definition of a seasonal job, and gritting drivers aren’t needed all year round. Most drivers will work between November and April when snow is most likely. They also tend to work mostly at night, to ensure the roads are ready and safe for the morning commute. So during the warmer weather, drivers will usually take on other jobs. For council employed drivers, they may work on motorways or drive bin lorries during the summer months. But the council aren’t the only ones who need to prevent ice. Plenty of private companies – like supermarkets, retailers and private business parks will need gritting for their parking spaces. For private drivers, they will often drive delivery lorries.
You’ll often find that gritting jobs for both public and private companies start cropping up as winter approaches. Even now, with Christmas over, the gritters are out in force to deal with the Siberian blast. Payment wise, gritting can range from £10 an hour to £250 a night, depending on the company, lorry type and even whether it’s the public or private sector. In order to drive a gritter, you will need a Cat B or Cat C license.
That’s where we come in. At The HGV Training Centre, we help aspiring drivers gain the qualifications they need to pursue a career in HGV driving. Our experts can help you work out what license you need, and how to go about training for it. We can also help you to find employment as a driver once you have your qualification. So this winter, don’t just sit and watch Gritty McVittie go by – get behind the wheel instead! For more information, just get in touch with us today.
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