Winter gritting

UK drivers battle to escape frozen neighbourhoods

More than half of AA members (52%) are struggling to get out of their ice and snow-bound neighbourhoods

More than half of AA members (52%) are struggling to get out of their ice and snow-bound neighbourhoods

More than half of AA members (52%) are struggling to get out of their ice and snow-bound neighbourhoods on to gritted roads that will get them safely to work, their kids to school, and to other essential morning destinations, AA research reveals.

Road salting is such a postcode lottery that only 20% of them can drive straight on to a treated road when they set off.

An AA-Populus survey of 16,165 AA members in mid December found that one in seven AA members form work parties with neighbours to clear snow and ice so that they can get on to main roads.

Cars abandoned

Worst of all, 11% of AA members abandon their cars on the drive or outside their homes and have to seek other ways to go about their daily routines. Among pensioners, more than a fifth (22%) give up driving in periods of snow and sustained freezing and are left marooned at home.

National and regional differences

The eastern side of England suffers most from treacherously frozen local roads. The challenge is greatest in the North East as 56% of drivers struggle to get to a gritted route, closely followed by 55% in the East Midlands and also in the South East. AA members in Northern Ireland also face an ordeal with 56% battling to get to the main roads.

Scotland stands out as the part of the UK where more than a quarter of drivers (27%) can drive straight on to a treated road at the start of their journey. Londoners are the next best served with 23% of AA members living on what they perceive to be a gritted route, probably due the city’s population density and fewer instances of severe snowfall.

One in five AA members in the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside, and Wales team up with neighbours to clear snow and ice on their local roads and streets. Londoners are least organised with only 5% helping each other out.

Increasingly, when frost, ice and snow turn local roads treacherous, local authorities are leaving neighbourhoods to just get on with it themselves

Edmund King, AA president

Left to get on with it

“One of the biggest winter gripes is the complaint that UK main roads are generally safe and useable in snow and ice – providing you can get on to them in one piece. Increasingly, when frost, ice and snow turn local roads treacherous, local authorities are leaving neighbourhoods to just get on with it themselves,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.

“Not being able to get up slopes, sliding over the line at junctions, skidding into kerbs or other cars are some of the trials drivers face on their daily routine in snow and freezing conditions. Some councils have gone even further by turning off street lights late at night into the early morning - as if setting out for work on a winter’s morning isn’t hard enough.”


(21 January 2015)