Dorset Council has invested millions of pounds in a new fleet of gritters to tackle freezing conditions.

A total of £3.5 million has been spent on 25 new gritting vehicles, 10 of which are currently in use, with 15 more on order for delivery ahead of next winter.

Some of the old vehicles were over 10 years old and were becoming unreliable and incurring expensive maintenance costs.

The new vehicles are the cleanest and most efficient diesel heavy goods vehicles available in the UK, meeting Euro 6 requirements to reduce exhaust emissions.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel, and Environment said: “Investing in a new fleet of vehicles was a necessity for the council.

"The old lorries have provided years of steadfast service, but the time had come to replace them with vehicles that are more reliable, efficient and better for the environment.

“Combined with our route-based system using local ground temperatures, we can identify the roads needing to be gritted, rather than a blanket approach, saving money, salt and time.

“Our crews are on call for six months every winter to keep our roads safe. Please be courteous when you see them and if you are behind a gritting vehicle, please be patient.”

The vehicles treat 684 miles of roads that form the 23 main gritting routes in Dorset. A route-based weather forecasting system is used to identify which roads need to be gritted at any particular time - this enables the council to grit roads only when needed.

This is better for the environment, and saves money, with less salt used and fewer lorry journeys.

Ninety members of the regular highways team are on standby during the winter months for on-call duties day and night.

It is a core requirement of the council to keep its primary salting network free of snow and ice so this takes priority night or day over all other works. This can sometimes impact delivery of planned highways works during the winter.

The council also says it is important for road users to remember to drive with care on freshly gritted roads.

A spokesperson for Dorset Council added: "Salt (grit) needs to be dissolved into a solution to work. When we grit, we need vehicles to travel on it 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 it cannot be guaranteed there won’t be ice and rain can wash salt off the road, as well as water run-off from fields.

"Please take care, reduce speed, keep your distance. Remember, even if gritters have been out, roads can still be slippery."