Ice and snow on roads and streets

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) aims to help traffic on main roads move safely in wintry conditions, with salt spreading taking place at the most effective times. DfI staff are on standby 24 hours a day to monitor and react according to the conditions.

Salted roads

Salting focuses on: 

  • routes carrying 80 per cent of traffic 
  • main through routes carrying more than 1,500 vehicles per day
  • other busy through routes carrying more than 1,000 vehicles per day may be included if there are difficult circumstances
  • links to small settlements (100 dwellings or more) by the shortest route to the main salted road

Special allowance is made for school and other buses by a weighting factor - an example of this weighting is that a 40-seater bus is counted as 40 vehicles.

Special arrangements are in place for rural schools that face particular difficulties.

On more lightly-trafficked roads, salt bins (grit boxes) or grit piles may be provided for use by the public on a self-help basis.

All other routes are normally not salted.

When salting takes place

Salting can take place from the end of October to mid-April. This can be extended if necessary.

The Met Office provides the Department for Infrastructure with special weather forecasts to help it make decisions about when salting is needed.

Salt is not normally spread:

  • when there is heavy rain, due to the risk of salt wash-off
  • on dry roads where frost is not predicted to form
  • in the middle of the night and on roads with fewer vehicles, as traffic is needed to turn salt into de-icing solution

Try to make sure your vehicle does not block access for gritters and snow ploughs (abandoned and stationary vehicles are the main cause of obstruction).

Reporting an issue with ice or snow

You can report an ice or snow issue or request a salt-bin or pile at the link below. 

Tracking the progress of a fault

You are able to check the progress of a fault you have reported using the link below:

Advice when driving in icy or snowy conditions

The best advice to motorists is given in the Highway Code for Northern Ireland:

  • drive with care even if the roads have been salted
  • be prepared for the road conditions changing over relatively short distances
  • take care when overtaking salt spreading machines

You can get more information at this link:

No guarantees for ice free roads

Despite everyone’s best efforts there is no guarantee that roads will always be completely free of ice.

Remember:

  • salting time: it takes up to three-and-a-half hours to salt a route, so your journey may start or end on an untreated section of the route
  • if it rains the salt may be washed away and ice may form
  • the weather forecasts are not always 100 per cent accurate

Main salting routes

The salted network in Northern Ireland is fairly extensive. 

Details of all salting routes are available from the Department for Infrastructure Roads divisional offices during normal office hours (9.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday).

More useful links

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