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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 November, 2003, 08:30 GMT
Road gritters on 24-hour standby
Road gritting lorry
Unexpected snowfalls brought traffic to a standstill in January
Motorists will not see a repeat of last winter's traffic chaos caused by a failure to grit motorways, the Highways Agency has pledged.

Thousands of drivers were left stranded on the M11 and M25 motorways in the South East in January when snow and ice brought traffic to a standstill.

The Highways Agency says it has taken steps to make sure its gritting contractors are on 24-hour standby.

But the decision to grit will still be left largely to the contractors.

'Caught out'

The agency's pledge follows criticism from MPs that it was caught out by sudden falls of heavy snow in January.

Thousands of motorists got caught up in the freezing weather with the M11 in Essex and the A14 in Cambridgeshire worst affected.

Some drivers were stuck in their cars overnight.

Now the agency has promised drivers the companies it employs to do the gritting will be on standby 24 hours a day, although it admits there will be no increase in the number of gritting lorries.

The agency is responsible for motorways and major roads while local councils take responsibility responsible for minor routes.

In February the government announced plans for legislation to force councils to grit icy roads.

Road gritting plan criticised
22 Oct 02  |  England

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