Salting, gritting and snow clearance

How we keep roads clear of ice and snow in winter.

We usually salt between 2 November and 5 April.

We are committed to keeping a network of major roads free from ice to minimise the risk of accidents and ensure the smooth flow of traffic. Precautionary salting (sometimes called 'gritting') helps achieve this aim.

Salting/gritting updates

Salting zone Road surface temps below 0c Action Last updated
North zone (Cotswolds) No No Action 17 December 11:12pm
Central zone (Central Oxfordshire) No No Action 17 December 11:12pm
South zone (Chilterns and North Wessex Downs) No No Action 17 December 11:12pm
Comments/update Last salting undertaken Action
Clear spells this evening but gradually, as the night progresses, amounts of cloud will increase and could even produce the odd spot of rain at times later. Fairly mild but also rather blustery. Pre Salt - All Domains

Where we salt

We anticipate that each salting route will take approximately three hours to complete. All routes will be undertaken simultaneously. We aim to have all work completed before ice would form on road surfaces.

It would be unrealistic and uneconomic to salt all roads, although we do manage to treat 43 per cent of the county council's road network which is above the national average and comparable to neighbouring authorities. Certain county roads have been identified as important routes because they:

  • carry large volumes of traffic
  • provide access to key strategic facilities
  • are known problem sites
  • provide access to hospitals and fire stations
  • are main bus routes.

When we salt

We decide when to carry out precautionary salting using:

  • regular weather forecasts specifically for road conditions on Oxfordshire's roads
  • a computerised ice prediction system which compares forecast conditions against actual road temperatures measured at five weather stations around the county
  • a through-the-night watch on conditions
  • the local knowledge of staff to judge when to best carry out precautionary salting.

Even if freezing temperatures are predicted, there may be no need for precautionary salting if:

  • there is enough salt left on the road from the previous salting
  • no rain has fallen and roads are dry, as ice will not form.

Safety

Although we make great efforts to keep roads clear in winter, drivers must never assume that a road will be free from ice. This is because:

  • in certain circumstances we may treat priority routes only
  • salt can have a limited effect in severe cold conditions
  • high winds or rain can remove salt from road surfaces before temperatures fall
  • many minor roads do not get salted.

Remember: speed kills, especially in icy conditions. Kill your speed to make your driving safer.

Salt or grit bins

Pavements only get limited attention because clearing them is very labour intensive. Only major shopping areas are likely to be treated with salt/grit in the early stages following snowfall. See our page on salt and grit bins for information on how to request one in your area.

Snow clearance

Snow can take much longer to clear than ice. Heavier applications of salt are needed when snow settles on roads more than one inch deep. As with salting, roads will be treated in order of importance, starting with priority routes.

Travelling to school

In the event of adverse weather conditions we rely on school transport operators to judge whether they will be able to safely transport children to and from school. If you have queries on whether school transport is running we suggest you contact the operator directly.

You can check our school closures page to find out whether your school is open.