DORSET'S gritting crews are on standby to hit the road as temperatures drop.

Dorset Council said it has 13,000 tonnes of salt in stock to keep 684 miles of vital A and B roads open this winter.

Gritters were sent out 54 times and used more than 3,500 tonnes of salt between the end of October last year and the start of April this year.

To keep residents and businesses moving, 23 drivers are on call for every 12-hour period to salt the main gritting network and, in prolonged extreme temperatures, the community link routes.

In snowy conditions, gritters will concentrate solely on priority north/south and east/west routes – 22 sections of road – to keep them clear of snow before then clearing the remaining A and B road gritting network, and then finally work on clearing community link roads.

With temperatures forecast to take a dive towards the end of the week, motorists are being urged to drive to the conditions.

A council spokesman said: "When we grit, we need vehicles to travel on it and work it into a solution to ‘activate’ it. If you travel early in the morning or are the first to drive on a gritted road, please drive with care.

"Even on treated roads we can’t guarantee there won’t be ice. Rain can wash salt off the road, as well as water run-off from fields.

"Drivers should drive to the conditions – reducing their speed and increasing their stopping distance – check that tyres, brakes and lights are in good working order and remember, even if gritters have been out, roads can still be slippy."