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Transport for Buckinghamshire are getting the gritters out of summer retirement to tackle the effect of the prolonged hot temperatures on the roads.

Road surface temperatures are much hotter than the ambient air temperature, and are now regularly exceeding 50 degrees C by mid-afternoon in places, causing some road surfaces to soften.

As bitumen bleeds through to the road surface it can look very black and slick, particularly on roads that are subject to a high level of turning and braking movements from traffic, or that do not get any shade.

Buckinghamshire County Council's Deputy Leader and Transport Cabinet Member Mark Shaw commented: "This is not a problem unique to Buckinghamshire, roads are suffering all over the country at the moment as this unbelievable weather persists! Look out for our gritters spreading sand and dust over the roads in Bucks over the coming days and weeks, to absorb the bitumen and help prevent deterioration of the road surface. My huge thanks go to Transport for Bucks teams working in sweltering temperatures to keep the roads safe."

The gritters will continue operating until the extreme hot weather conditions subside, and road surfaces return to a more normal temperature.

The country is currently experiencing the longest period of consistent hot weather since 1976, with temperatures frequently reaching 29 degrees C and above, with no sign of things cooling down soon. This hot weather is also impacting on the progress of the summer road resurfacing programme, because temperatures are too high to lay down certain types of surface treatments.

Whilst there are not currently expected to be any long term effects to the condition of the highway network, road users are asked — as usual — to exercise care while travelling, including taking care of their vehicles and themselves. While vehicle breakdowns are no more likely in hot weather than any other time, the conditions would be very hot and uncomfortable. Cars should be checked before longer journeys and motorists should carry plenty of water to keep hydrated.

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