Which roads will be salted?
You can see our salting routes on the Surrey Winter Online map. There is a key to the map layers, found by selecting the 'Legend' option from the menu on the bottom of the screen.
How do we decide when to salt?
We use weather forecasts, computerised ice prediction systems and information from roadside weather stations to get the most accurate indications of where and when ice is likely to form.
When deciding if salting is needed, we also consider:
- Whether or not the road surfaces are wet or dry.
- The likelihood of rain or snow.
- If there is any salt already on the roads from previous salting runs.
How do we decide where to salt?
With approximately 3000 miles of roads in Surrey and a limited budget we need to prioritise which roads we salt.
Priority 1 roads
Priority 1 roads are the most important roads in terms of the volume of traffic carried, and are the first to be treated in advance of any forecast frost, ice or snow. Priority 1 roads include:
- all A roads, B roads and roads carrying more than 8,000 vehicles per day
- main access routes to hospitals
- major bus routes
- roads that link salting routes with those of adjoining counties
- any priority 2 road which meets three or more of the criteria for priority 2 roads.
Priority 2 roads
During periods of prolonged and persistent frost, ice or snow, we extend salting to include these roads, but only once priority 1 roads have been cleared. Priority 2 roads include:
- roads carrying more than 4,000 vehicles per day
- main access routes to important industrial areas and secondary education establishments
- single access points to villages
- access roads leading to railway stations
- roads used by other bus routes and depots
- steep hazardous gradients and on bridges where local icing conditions are known to occur.
Priority 3 roads
During periods of snow clearing, the priority 2 network will be extended to include access routes to primary schools.
High routes are a small area to the east of the county that cover the downs at a high altitude. Four gritting vehicles are dispatched from the council's Godstone depot. This particular area of the county is more prone to frost. Because of this, there may be times where we carry out additional salting on these particular routes.
During severe snow conditions or salt shortage
We will restrict salting to a limited number of priority 1 roads:
- A roads
- Main access routes to large and medium population hubs
- Main access routes to A and E, acute and some other hospitals, and all fire stations.
Roads we partly salt
Some roads are only partly salted. The part that is salted is shown on the Surrey Winter Online Map.
Motorways and trunk roads
Highways England are responsible for salting the motorways and trunk roads that pass through Surrey, including the M3, the M23, M25, A3, A23 at Hooley and the A30 (in Spelthorne only).
We do not routinely salt pavements. However, when there is prolonged frost, ice or snow, we do try to clear pavements in towns and those areas serving hospitals. More details are on our pavement and footways snow clearing page.
Areas that we do not salt
We do not salt residential roads, alleyways, car parks and private property unless they are on the priority list above.
Full details of our salting criteria can be found on our Highway Cold Weather Plan 2019/20 (PDF).
Why is the road still icy?
- It takes time for the salt to become effective after roads are treated (the more traffic a road has, the quicker the salt will take effect).
- Rain can wash salt off roads leaving them prone to re-icing. If the rain turns to snow during rush hour, any earlier treatment will be washed away and it isn't possible to re-salt in heavy traffic.
- If road temperatures fall below minus 7 degrees Celsius the effectiveness of salt diminishes and it will not prevent roads from icing up.
- If conditions are really bad, access to the roads is not always possible - even for the salt spreaders.
- Most minor roads and pavements are not routinely salted.
How salt works
Salting does not mean that the road surface will instantly become ice free. Salt works by turning the ice or snow surrounding each salt granule into a saline solution which has a lower freezing point than water. The action of traffic helps the salt to be more effective by moving the salt around and eventually melting all the ice or preventing ice forming.
What should I do if a salt spreader was travelling too fast to be safe?
Contact the team and tell us when and where this happened and we will investigate your concerns. When spreading, salt spreaders should travel at no more than 34mph.
Can I make an insurance claim for a weather-related accident?
See our page about insurance claims against the council.
Files available to download
- Highways Cold Weather Plan 2019-20 (824.0 KB)
Details of how Surrey Highways manages the roads and pavements during winter months, including criteria for grit bins, gritting roads and snow clearance