FIVE National Highways gritters were hit by other vehicles last winter, increasing from a single incident in the previous year.

Each vehicle suffered from damage in the incidents.

Now, motorists are now being urged to afford gritters the necessary amount of space to perform their crucial duties this winter.

Darren Clark, severe weather resilience manager at National Highways, said: "It is quite shocking that five of our gritter vehicles were struck while in the course of their duties last winter season.

"With the current winter conditions it is a timely reminder for drivers to give our vehicles the time and space they need to do their jobs to keep everyone safe.

"We also encourage everyone to follow our TRIP messaging so they are fully prepared for their journeys."

Motorists are also asked to remember the TRIP acrostic before embarking on travels: Top-up oils, water, and screenwash; Rest every two hours; Inspect tyres and lights, and Prepare by checking your route and the weather forecast.

National Highways has Romaquip-Volvo gritting vehicles and an total fleet of approximately 530 gritting units which can withstand sub-zero temperatures to keep England's A-roads and motorways safe.

The company started this winter season armed with around 280,000 tonnes of salt located at its 128 depots.

Mr Clark added: "If you are going to pass us, please do so courteously, pass us safely and legally, or even better, if you are able to stay back, you will actually help the salt on the road activate even more quickly by crushing and breaking it into the road surface which benefits everyone.

"We are once again totally committed to working around the clock on these seasonal operations to keep all road users safe and thank everyone in advance for their patience and understanding."

National Highways, along with over 250 weather stations, works with independent meteorological experts Metdesk and the national Met Office.

This collective effort helps in providing precise information about changing road surface temperatures across the highway network, guiding where and when roads need to be salted.

Abigail Oakes, senior account manager at the Met Office, said: "We are delighted to continue our close working relationship with National Highways this winter season.

"Our staff... are proud to continue this partnership, which allows for the best possible support for road users during periods of severe weather."

National Highways and the Met Office emphasize the importance of staying informed about current road conditions, regardless of the weather.

This can be achieved through channels such as their website, third party travel providers, sat nav companies and local radio stations.

Travellers are encouraged to visit National Highways’ Travel updates page or contact the National Highways Information Line on 0300 123 5000 for current information.