Sussex roads gritting: Drivers enjoy the job as winter looms

TWO drivers will be returning to their gritter lorries this winter to keep motorists safe when temperatures plummet. Graham Gosden and Nick Bishop work for East Sussex Highways and have more than 50 years’ worth of experience between them. They keep the county’s roads clear of snow and ice, and are gearing up for a busy few months ahead.

The duo joined the authority in the mid 1990s, and say they both love their job despite the early starts and late nights. Mick said: “It is a pleasure to keep the roads safe for the public and you see some beautiful countryside. “It’s quite a sight coming across a deer when you’re driving through snow over the Ashdown Forest.”

Graham added: “Our gritters are great to drive nowadays – it’s warm in the cab, which is important when it’s a freezing winter’s morning, and everything is fully automated so you can control the grit spreading at the touch of a button.” The team of 42 drivers cover nearly 1,000 miles of road in East Sussex, and there are 8,000 tonnes of salt at depots across the county. Each run uses about 100 tonnes.

Graham said: “On a good night after an evening shout, I can usually be back home in bed by midnight. “If it’s a morning run, I’ll get up around 2.30am before heading to the yard to load up the trucks with salt. “My run takes approximately two hours and 20 minutes to complete.

Once I’m back in the yard, we empty the truck of any leftover salt and wash it down to stop the rust.” Mick added: “You can’t control the weather though. If it starts to rain, we have to wait as you can’t grit on wet roads.

“Sometimes if the overnight forecast is bad we have to go out earlier, at 2am or 3am; then I try to get some sleep beforehand.” East Sussex County Council’s transport lead Cllr Claire Dowling said: “Graham, Mick and their fellow drivers do an amazing job on the rounds around our county every winter. “A great deal of preparation goes into our winter response to ensure we are ready to treat roads before frost and ice appear.

“Gritting roads helps to lessen the driving hazards that winter brings, but it does not eliminate them.

I would urge drivers to take extra care when driving during cold weather, even if they can see grit on the road.”

More information about East Sussex Highways’ winter service, can be found by visiting eastsussexhighways.com/our-services/winter-service.

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