Road Maintenance

Winter Driving and Gritting Routes

Stay safe when driving in the ice and snow

Please take care when driving this Winter

Before setting off

  1. Drive only if your journey is really necessary
  2. Allow sufficient time - avoid dusk or night driving
  3. A full tank of fuel is essential - the biggest source of heat if stranded will be the car engine.
  4. Make sure all lights are working, fluid levels are correct, use a stronger screen wash to prevent the windscreen freezing, make sure all windows are clean use de-icer and a suitable scraper.
  5. If forced to abandon the vehicle leave it in the safest place possible.
  6. Never leave the vehicle unattended with its engine running. That will nullify its insurance cover if stolen.
  7. Dress for the conditions. Take a thermos of hot drink or soup and high energy food such as sweets, chocolate and glucose based snacks.
  8. Have a blanket or sleeping bag and a high visibility coat or vest.
  9. Have entertainment especially if transporting young children. Take sunglasses to reduce low winter sun glare, mobile phone charger, breakdown service telephone number and inform someone that you are on your journey particularly if driving in a remote area.

On the road

  1. At the wheel apply gentle acceleration, steering and braking - sympathetic gentle driving is the key to travelling safely.
  2. Pull away in second or third gear. In an automatic select second gear. Some automatics have a winter mode.
  3. Watch your speed and remember that cyclists and pedestrians will be less visible than other vehicle
  4. Stopping distances increase up to 10 times in ice and snow.
  5. Never rev the engine as that only ‘polishes' snow and ice, If the vehicles start to skid, gentle lift-off the throttle and steer into the skid. Try not to brake. Use first gear as a brake.
  6. Black ice is often in areas shadowed from the sun particularly on roads heading north to south so beware.
  7. While the vehicle is warm inside it can be freezing outside so monitor the vehicle's external temperate meter.
  8. Non-gritted roads - beware of driving in wheel-tracks because compressed snow is more likely to cause a skid than undisturbed snow.
  9. Dipped headlights are essential to see and be seen. Do not use fog lights unless visibility is less than 100 meters- they dazzle oncoming vehicles and rear fog lights can obscure brake lights.
  10. Avoid flashing headlights to acknowledge other drivers. It causes dazzle.

Emergency Kit 

Put together an 'emergency kit' for long journeys particularly in winter weather.

  • Ice scraper and de-icer.
  • Torch.
  • Warm clothes and a blanket.
  • A pair of boots.
  • First aid kit.
  • Battery jump leads.
  • Shovel.

Take food and a warm drink in a flask when you are travelling in wintry weather.

If you get into trouble

If you have a mobile phone, do not use it while driving. Stop somewhere safe or ask a passenger to make the call.

Abandoned vehicles can cause problems for rescue vehicles and snowploughs. To ensure that the road is cleared as quickly as possible stay with your vehicle until help arrives. If you have to leave your vehicle to get help make sure you can be seen by other vehicles.

Vehicle condition

  • In winter it is even more important to check that your vehicle is well maintained and serviced.
  • Keep your lights, windows and mirrors clean and free from ice and snow.
  • Keep your battery fully charged.
  • Add anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer bottles.
  • Make sure wipers and lights are in good working order.
  • Check tyres have plenty of tread depth and are maintained at the right pressure.

Winter Maintenance Service

The Winter Service is an important part of the Council's maintenance work.This involves salting major roads when there is a risk of ice, clearing snow and reacting to floods and fallen trees.

Salt is used to lower the freezing point of water in frosty conditions. This reduces the formation of ice and the possibility of skidding or more serious road accidents. Stored in salt barns around Pembrokeshire, it can be deployed quickly by the Council when weather forecasts indicate a freeze ahead.

Important things to remember

  • It can take time for the salt to become effective. Showers or rain will wash salt off roads leaving them prone to icing.
  • Forecasts are not always accurate, and the weather can change rapidly.
  • Nearly 80% of the roads are not routinely treated.
  • When freezing or snow follows rain there may not be enough time to treat all the network before temperatures fall to zero.
  • It takes over 2 hours to salt the network

Which roads are salted?

To view the roads that are salted in Pembrokeshire: Salting Network Maps.

In certain circumstances additional roads may be salted, however this will only be done when the above priority network has been completed, and will depend on the weather.

In the main towns in Pembrokeshire busy footways may be treated, when there is a significant risk of icy conditions for long periods through the day.

The choice of routes for routine pre-salting is based on traffic volume, high strategic value for movement around the County, cost effectiveness and specific local priorities, e.g. hospitals. The general principle is to make the pre-salting operation of benefit to as many road users as possible, and being flexible enough to recognise important local needs. The total County pre-salt run covers 592 km of carriageway, which is 23% of the total County network.

Remember: most roads are not routinely treated. It takes over two hours to salt our highway network - never assume that a road has already been treated.

When does salting take place?

Pembrokeshire County Council staff monitor the weather conditions throughout the day and night, liaising closely with forecasters specifically employed by the Council for this task. In addition there are several road side sensors in the region that measure road temperature and other important factors, relaying this information back to computers used by both the forecasters and highway staff.

The decisions to salt are, where appropriate, subject to factors such as local geography, humidity measurements and wind speeds. The decision is taken by experienced winter maintenance officers in the Council.

Elevated parts of highway, including bridges, and sections lying in low ground are more prone to freezing and usually require special attention.

How does the salting take place?

The precautionary salting network covers 11 routes, which in normal circumstances ensures that salting activities are completed within two hours. Each salting lorry has been carefully maintained to ensure that the correct amount of salt is spread on the roads, and all the drivers are fully trained.

The salt is provided from a salt mine in Cheshire. We keep stockpiles of salt under cover to ensure that its effectiveness is not reduced by run off of active agents and that associated environmental impacts are kept to a minimum.

Salt bins

Salt bins were traditionally provided on sharp bends and hills on rural minor roads and within residential areas. However, due to cost implications, vandalism, theft and the potential risks of the public trying to use salt at dangerous locations salt bins have generally not been replaced or new ones provided in recent years.

We currently refer requests for salt bins to the Town and Community Councils who are best placed to arrange for salt to be spread by local volunteers during adverse weather. The County Council will arrange for bins to be supplied to Town and Community Councils and will continue to supply the salt needed for this operation when requested. We are however unable to supply new salt bins or replenish empty ones at short notice.

Flooded roads

  • Don't attempt to cross if the water seems too deep.
  • Drive slowly in first gear but keep the engine speed high by pressing on the clutch to increase the revs - this will stop you from stalling.
  • Avoid the deepest water, usually near the kerb.
  • Remember to test your brakes when you are through the flood before you drive at normal speed.

Take care around winter maintenance vehicles

All agencies involved aim to keep delays and accidents to a minimum in wintry weather conditions by clearing priority roads as soon as conditions permit. Winter maintenance vehicle drivers take all possible precautions during operations to protect the safety of other road users.

Salting vehicles - Great care is taken when applying salt to the road to ensure that correct spread and widths are maintained. Salting vehicles are extremely powerful and travel at up to 40mph spreading salt across all lanes of trunk roads. Drivers should remain a safe distance behind them. Do not attempt to overtake.

Snow Ploughing - You should take particular care to watch for irregular accumulations of snow caused by snow ploughing operations. Do not be tempted to overtake snowploughs by squeezing into partially cleared lanes.

About the Winter Maintenance Service

Pembrokeshire occupies an area of 616 square miles and its road network comprises trunk, principal, non-principal and unclassified roads. This network is chiefly rural in character, but contains a significant urban element.

The National Assembly for Wales is responsible for trunk road maintenance in Wales. The South Wales Trunk Road Agency (SWTRA) is responsible for the maintenance of the majority of the trunk road network within Pembrokeshire.

The Trunk Road A487 from Capel Newydd to the County boundary is maintained by the Mid Wales Trunk Road Agency (MWTRA). Pembrokeshire County Council acts as sub-agents for operational activities relating to winter maintenance within its County boundary for SWTRA.

Pembrokeshire County Council will endeavour to provide a Winter Maintenance Service which, as far as is reasonably practicable, will permit the safe movement of vehicular traffic on the strategically important sections of the highway network and keep to a minimum delays and accidents due to adverse weather conditions.

ID: 170, revised 15/11/2023