‘Keyboard warriors should try driving a gritter lorry’: Ballymena Councillor

Cllr Paul Maguire. INBT 22-151JC
Cllr Paul Maguire. INBT 22-151JC

A Braid Councillor has hit out at “keyboard warriors” who wrongly criticised Transport NI for “failing to grit roads” in the wake of a spate of accidents in Ballymena earlier this week.

Independent Councillor Paul Maguire spoke out after accidents on the A26 between Ballymena’s Seven Towers Roundabout and Antrim’s Dunsilly Roundabout on Monday morning.

Cllr Maguire said: “Early reports carried in the media indicated no serious injuries resulting from accidents involving up to six vehicles.

“I trust that this remains the case and extend my best wishes to everyone involved.

“The shock alone would’ve been extremely traumatic.

“Having spoken to Transport NI, it would appear that a rain/sleet shower arrived and froze on contact with the cold road surface leading to the widespread black ice.”

Cllr Maguire then quoted Transport NI’s response to his request for information on the driving conditions, in which the organisation said that “localised rain or sleet showers may have reduced the effectiveness of salt in these areas”.

Transport NI stated: “Salting of the road network was undertaken as a preventative measure late Sunday evening in anticipation of freezing temperatures which were forecast to occur early Monday morning.

“Road inspections indicated that roads on the treated network were dry with evidence of salt from the earlier gritting action clearly visible. However it appears that localised rain or sleet showers may have reduced the effectiveness of salt in these areas.

“Even with the most careful and thorough planning, the use of special Met Office forecasts and the latest ice prediction technology, ice-free roads cannot be guaranteed.

“There is always the risk of rain washing off the salt just before a freeze and the fact that it takes at least three hours to salt a route, means that motorists have to play their part by taking great care during wintry conditions.

“The best advice is in the Highway Code - ‘Drive with care even if roads have been salted; be prepared for road conditions changing over short distances and time periods; and take care when overtaking gritters’.”

Responding to Transport NI’s statement, Cllr Maguire continued: “I appreciate Transport NI’s prompt and comprehensive account of what actually did happen to create such difficult driving conditions, as well as confirming that the road had been salted as a preventative measure, in anticipation of the forecast for freezing temperatures.

“I appreciate the work that Transport NI do to help keep our roads clear and transport moving. The workforce involved in gritting put their own personal safety at risk, given that they have to travel on roads that haven’t yet been treated.

“It maddens me therefore when people post comments on social media such as ‘very unfortunate that the councils (sic) are not doing their job,’ and ‘it’s a huge lapse that the roads weren’t gritted’. The latter comment coming from an elected representative!”

“I rather think that if such ‘keyboard warriors’ were asked to drive a gritter lorry for tens of miles on untreated roads, to help protect the rest of us, they might think before they post such uninformed comments.”