Many people agree that winter road salt is highly effective in creating safer sidewalks and roadway conditions. Using road salt is believed to be equal with other safety measures, like plowing and cautious driving behaviour, all working together to keep our roads safe.

The latest research has managed to isolate the effect of road salting, revealing that winter road safety substantially increased with salting – the use of salt can drop collision rates by as much as 85 percent.

A new study, “Safety Impacts of Using Deicing Salt,” used data gathered from Ontario records, spanning six winters. The University of Waterloo found that the key factor impacting our roadways is road surface conditions.

A 10 percent improvement in road surface condition may result in a 20 percent reduction in the number of vehicle collisions. It turns out that road surface conditions are a more important factor in reducing collisions than driver visibility or the amount of snow.

The new findings have caught the interest of public officials, and as a result, many towns and municipalities across Canada and the United States are changing how they prepare for winter. In the suburbs of Burnsville, Minnesota, the street supervisor, Doug Hartman, told Roads&Bridges that he has changed the city’s winter road maintenance routine.

“When we get into extreme cold temperatures and dangerous conditions, public safety is our main concern, and the public benefits by having bare pavement,” Hartman explained. He’s focused on using a purer salt and a salt deicer on the streets.

“We’ve gone from using a sand-salt mixture to pure salt. Now that we’re trained in calibrating our trucks and are more confident in how we can control applications, we’ve gradually been implementing the use of salt in general and distributing the deicer more and more,” he said.

Hartman’s city has seen indirect cost savings resulting from his diligence to road conditions. Burnsville applied 2,500 tons of deicer over 250 miles (or 402 kilometres) of roadway. Research has revealed that the preventative salting Hartman speaks of is highly effective. This involves applying a liquid spray (also called deicing) before snow falls.

“At temperatures of 15 degrees and higher (-9°C), we use regular road salt, but for conditions below 15 degrees, we use the deicer product because it works better and faster than road salt,” Hartman said.

According to the University of Waterloo, the study showed that collision rates dropped by 75 percent on average only two hours after the salt has been applied. Therefore, ensuring you’re salting roads as soon as possible should be a top priority.

However, when the winter season hits high demand, it usually overwhelms salt providers just when the roads need them most. At Draglam Salt, we offer a winter sand and bulk salt mixture, or various pure salt and deicing products.

To ensure you have access to your preferred product to keep roads clear, it’s critical to arrange for your salt order ahead of the first winter freeze. Be sure your roads are as safe as possible – even if the season starts earlier than predicted. At Draglam Salt, it’s never too early to give us a call at our 24 Hour Salt Hotline: 1-888-907-SALT. We’re happy to deliver your salt or pick it up at one of our 12 locations throughout the GTA.