A new safety campaign launched in the West Midlands by Highways England seeks to warn motorists about the risks of using the hard shoulder to undertake gritters.

Gritters travel at approximately 40 – 50 mph in the middle lane of the motorway so they can spread salt and grit across three lanes at once.

Highways England’s gritter drivers have said that a growing number of drivers are undertaking them, putting themselves at risk of being involved in a collision with any stationary vehicle in the hard shoulder.

The safety campaign is urging drivers to leave plenty of time for journeys during the winter period to allow for the possibility of meeting gritters and, should they do so, to only pass one when it is safe to do so, without using the hard shoulder.

Latest figures show that, on average, 16 people are killed and 45 are seriously injured each year as a result of collisions on the hard shoulder or in laybys.

Karl De-Loyde, a serious injury solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Birmingham office, said: “The winter months can present tricky and dangerous driving conditions and gritters play an essential part in ensuring that Britain is kept moving safely.

“Undertaking a gritter using the hard shoulder is a reckless and incredibly dangerous manoeuvre that could potentially cause serious injury or death to the driver, their passengers or unsuspecting drivers using the hard shoulder after a breakdown.

“At Thompsons, we are all too aware of the life-changing and grave consequences of road traffic accidents and urge all drivers to take extra care this winter.”