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VIDEO: Drivers taking risks around gritters

VIDEO: Drivers taking risks around gritters

Published at 8:02pm 5th November 2015. (Updated at 8:05pm 5th November 2015)

A new safety campaign in Yorkshire is highlighting the dangers of undertaking gritters on motorways and major A roads.

Highways England's gritter drivers have noticed a growing number of vehicles veering into the hard shoulder to avoid being struck by salt.

Figures show that, on average, 16 people are killed every year as a result of collisions on hard shoulders or in lay-bys across England and another 45 people suffer a serious injury.

Gritters usually travel at 40mph in the middle lane when they are spreading salt on a three-lane motorway, treating the lane they are in and one lane on either side.

Phil Rowe, who has been driving gritters for 15 years, said: "We do see a lot of drivers using the hard shoulder to undertake us when we are out gritting the region's motorways, because they think that the salt will damage the paintwork on their vehicles. People really will do anything to get past a gritter, including going onto the hard shoulder where they are more likely to cause damage to their vehicle.

"You hear vehicles come screaming up behind you and come hurtling past you. The salt we are spreading will not cause any damage to your vehicle.

"The hard shoulder is purely for emergencies and trying to get past a gritter is not classed as an emergency. My advice to drivers would be to proceed and pass with care. Going on the hard shoulder should not be an option."

Sujad Hussain, winter manager at Highways England, added: "Our gritter drivers will be out in all weathers again this winter and we're encouraging road users to do their bit to help keep the region's motorways and major A roads moving.

"The vast majority of people support our gritter drivers by keeping back a sensible distance and only passing when it's safe to do so, but a few have been putting themselves and others at risk by using the hard shoulder to undertake gritters.

"We're also encouraging drivers to make sure they've got a winter kit in their vehicle so they don't get caught out by the weather. That could be as simple as having a pair of sunglasses in the glove locker so you're not struggling to see in the low winter sun."