Is de-icing the answer to snow chaos on roads?

Following on from my last article about heated roads the weather shows no signs of improving and our transport system has been badly affected by a modest amount of snowfall and sub zero temperatures. It should be no surprise that our road system grinds to a halt after a snowfall. Our roads are so badly congested even at the best of times that the smallest interruption to the flow of traffic causes chaos. There is no slack in the system to absorb problems like snow or an accident. Even the best laid plans would struggle to deal with the amount of snow that fell in such a short period of time.

What the government now needs to do is investigate what new technologies exist that will keep our roads free of snow and ice. The spreading of salt is too slow an operation as it can take several hours before an affected road is reached by a gritting lorry. What is needed is an instant solution and I have been reading about just a solution. A section of the A2 has been running a trial of a new system designed by Vaisala in Finland. Sensors next to the road can detect the temperature of the road surface and when it drops to zero degrees de-icer is sprayed onto the road from a dispersal system. This winter the trial has gone well apparently but large amounts of snow still need to be moved from the road by a snow plough.

There must be many systems available for keeping our main roads clear of snow and ice which don’t involve a gritting lorry. The sooner that the process starts to find these new systems the better !





5 responses to “Is de-icing the answer to snow chaos on roads?”

  1. avatar

    It may seem crazy that our infrastructure can t cope with a little snow but the cost of gritting all roads would be so huge that other public services would suffer. Far from putting everyone in a festive mood the snow has led to a repeat of the hand wringing at the state of the UK s infrastructure that we saw back in February when similar wintry scenes brought the country to a virtual standstill.

  2. DavidB avatar

    If football pitches can have undersoil heating to ensure that a football game goes ahead in snowy sub zero conditions then surely airports can have “under runway heating” to ensure that the country can keep flying. We need to get our priorities right !

  3. Ian Griffiths avatar
    Ian Griffiths

    I would like to put a different light on this subject.


    There are products available that can be put into road surfaces that will stop ice and snow forming on the road surface,which will significantly reduce the need for salting and will help prevent pot holes forming, but the industry would prefer to continue repairing pot holes, as pot hole repairing is a very lucrative business to some industries.


    Every year in the UK we remove over 20m tons of asphalt planing’s from our road surfaces during resurfacing works. These planings are generally given to the planing contractors who give them away to farmers to cover their farm tracks, or it is occasionally used as a secondary aggregate.

    In every 20 ton of planing’s is approximately £600 of bitumen which can be completely and inexpensively recovered and reused, plus the aggregate which is completely reusable. Taking into consideration the cost of the bitumen and the aggregate, there is approximately £750m of revenue available every year,if you recycled the roads, but it is given away.

    Europe and America recycle their roads every year and benefit both financially and environmentally from doing so, but the UK does not.

    The Road building industry should be almost self funding if it was managed properly, there are no excuses for not using recycled asphalt as there are products on the market that will regenerate the oxidised bitumen in planings, ensuring quality and performance is maintained in new asphalt pavements when planings are re used..

    The roads maintenance and building industry just needs to take proper responsibility for their roads.

  4. Ian Griffiths avatar
    Ian Griffiths

    If you would like information on the product used in asphalt to stop snow and ice forming on the road surface, please let me know by emailing me at:

  5. DavidB avatar

    @Ian Griffiths

    Thanks for your comments Ian…..very interesting comments about recycling of old road surfaces.

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