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Gritting in Dorset - the facts, figures and statistics

Facts, figures and advice about how we work to keep the roads clear across the Dorset County Council area.

Which roads are gritted

From November to March, we monitor road surface conditions, wind speed/direction, air temperature and rainfall from 9 different weather stations around the county. This data helps us decide whether to start gritting.

We send out gritters when road conditions are damp and the road temperature is predicted to fall below 1 degree. 

With over 2,500 miles of road in the county, we can't treat each and every single mile so we focus on:

  • major roads - all A, B and well-used C class roads
  • services - links to hospitals, industrial estates, transport interchanges, emergency service (including manned Coastguard and RNLI) stations
  • schools - routes to all urban schools with more than 500 pupils and rural schools with more than 350 pupils
  • bus routes - (subject to on-going review)
  • communities - main routes through towns and villages with populations more than 750

Request gritting

Gritting pavements

Pavements aren't usually gritted. If it snows and we have enough resources, we try to make sure that pavements in town centres, near schools and at bus stops are kept clear.

How gritting works

Grit (salt) works by lowering the temperature at which the water freezes. It relies on the traction of vehicle tyres to crush the solid salt particles into a solution which prevents the moisture on the road from freezing. Roads will still freeze despite gritting the surface when temperatures fall lower than -8 to -10 degrees.

Rain or snow will wash the salt away leaving roads prone to re-icing. So grit needs to be spread after rainfall but before temperatures drop too low which is why we sometimes need to repeat gritting.

Request a grit bin

Grit bins can only be used to treat the road and pavement, not private property like driveways or garden paths.

We usually fill grit bins before the end of October but not all bins will be filled up through the winter for free. Community grit bins (on lightly trafficked roads) can be refilled from a pre-ordered one tonne dumpy bag of 50/50 mix by the local town or parish councils, or by us at a charge of £45 for large bins (over 150 litres) and £30 for small bins (up to 150 litres).

Request a grit bin   Request a refill


In the rare case of heavy snowfall, it's not usually possible to keep the entire network open so ploughing/gritting will focus on major north-south and east-west routes first. You can  request snow clearance online (opens in a new window)

Information for farmers

Farmers can help keep the roads clear in the winter. Contact Dorset Highways to make an application for snow ploughing .

Report and track road issues and enquiries

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