AA Members' Snow Verdict

Drivers not impressed with snow-bound minor roads and pavements

17 February 2010

Relations between local highway authorities and drivers who rely on minor roads have become very frosty following this winter's severe snow – three-quarters of AA members say the councils did a bad job keeping these routes open, AA/Populus research reveals. Worse still was the response to treating pavements.

Minor roads

75% of AA members said their local authorities had done not very well (26%) or not at all well (49%) in gritting minor roads during the recent cold weather. A mere 2% said the councils had done very well.

Main roads

Councils get much better appreciation for their efforts on local main roads, with 81% of survey respondents saying the treatment of these roads was acceptable (26%), carried out reasonably well (29%) or very well (26%).


However, AA members reserve their coldest blast for snow and ice on pavements, with 86% of respondents in some way critical of councils' efforts. More significantly, 65% of the 20,000-strong sample said local authority efforts were no good at all.

Regional variation

Drivers in the South and the North West were the most upset with their councils. Respectively, 82% and 83% of respondents in those areas said councils did 'not very well' or 'not at all well' with the gritting on minor roads. The same areas were also least impressed with local authority efforts on main roads. However, Northern Ireland showed 92% satisfaction.

Local authorities in northern counties were most criticised for the state of the pavements during the bad weather with 90% of respondents in the North West and 89% in the Yorkshire and Humberside area saying that councils did 'not very well' or 'not at all well'. The South and West Midlands were close behind on 88%.


"It's going to take some time before a thaw sets in between motorists and councils following this winter's gritting failures," says Edmund King, the AA's President.

"Three quarters of AA members were not impressed with local authority efforts in gritting or salting local roads and pavements. Despite the prolonged cold spell and salt rationing, we believe more could have been done to keep local roads and pavements safe in some areas.

"The AA warned of our concerns over salt supplies in the autumn and we would like to see more resilient winter weather plans for the future. We must remember that failure to keep roads and pavements safe can have profound effects on the economy, the health service, insurance claims and general mobility.

"We know that gritting staff worked hard but were hampered by inadequate supplies. On the positive side, AA members were much more happy with gritting efforts on the main road network."


AA/Populus survey of 20,109 AA members conducted 12-15 January 2010.

Q. How well do you think your local authority has dealt with the recent very cold weather in terms of gritting and salting local roads and pavements?

Local main roads

Very well, reasonably well or acceptable – 81% (London 82%, South 76%, South West 89%, Wales 88%, East Midlands 87%, East Anglia 83%, Yorks/Humberside 82%, North West 71%, North East 80%, West Midlands 84%, Scotland 80%, Northern Ireland 92%)

Local minor roads

Not very well or not at all well – 75% (London 77%, South 82%, South West 72%, Wales 69%, East Midlands 73%, East Anglia 70%, Yorks/Humberside 76%, North West 83%, North East 73%, West Midlands 75%, Scotland 71%, Northern Ireland 63%)


Not very well – 21% (London 22%, South 18%, South West 25%, Wales 24%, East Midlands 25%, East Anglia 22%, Yorks/Humberside 19%, North West 16%, North East 21%, West Midlands 22%, Scotland 20%, Northern Ireland 26%)

Not at all well – 65% (London 63%, South 70%, South West 60%, Wales 59%, East Midlands 60%, East Anglia 63%, Yorks/Humberside 70%, North West 74%, North East 63%, West Midlands 66%, Scotland 63%, Northern Ireland 59%)


16 February 2010