Gritter lorries could be hit by HGV driver shortage, putting motorists at risk from icy roads

Gritter lorries could be hit by a shortage of HGV drivers, councils have warned, putting motorists at risk of driving on dangerous icy roads this winter.

Councils admitted that their difficulties retaining and recruiting bin lorry drivers could also affect gritters, which spread salt on roads when temperatures drop below freezing for a prolonged period or when there is heavy snowfall.

Refuse collections have been disrupted across several local authority areas in recent weeks.

David Renard, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association which represents councils in England and Wales, warned that the public sector is struggling to compete with driver salaries being offered by private firms.

He said: "While most councils have been able to keep services running, some may find that their gritting services are affected in the same way that some have seen waste collection services impacted.

"As they do every year, councils will be working proactively to plan ahead and ensure that their winter services are as resilient as they can be.

"Councils are keen to work with Government and partners to support more training for these demand sectors, however this is a lengthy process and does not alleviate the short-term pressures on frontline services.

"Fast-inflating HGV driver salaries in the private sector risks exacerbating issues in the public sector, with the rises potentially creating a retention as well as a recruitment problem for councils and their contractors.

"We want to work with Government to address these short-term staffing issues to ensure people across the country can continue to receive the services they rely upon."

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: "Not being able to grit roads when temperatures drop will be a real safety hazard and could lead to more crashes and, ultimately, more lives being ruined and lost.

"We’ve already seen reductions in the number of miles of roads being treated with salt over previous winters, so this would be a blow to drivers who rely on their vehicles.

"Councils must get a grip of this problem so drivers don’t lose grip on the roads this winter."

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