Surface dressing programme underway on roads across the Shire

Aberdeenshire’s summer road improvement programme is now underway in the area and motorists are reminded to be vigilant and look out for loose chippings and vulnerable roads crews. The improvement programme is expected to last until late July or early August, depending on weather conditions.

Mandatory speed limit

Most motorists are aware of the potential risks posed by loose chippings on newly dressed roads, which are minimised at lower speeds.

To that effect, the speed limit through surface dressing works is now a mandatory, rather than advisory, 20mph limit which means travelling in excess of that could result in prosecution.

The council recognises some road users, such as motorcyclists, can find loose chips particularly challenging and other motorists are reminded to give these users space and time.

Surface dressing is used as an effective and cost-efficient way to further the lifespan of roads and improve the quality of damaged carriageway.

The technique of laying hot bitumen followed by chippings works to seal the road surface and also provides better grip for vehicles.

However, it does require motorists to take extra care and reduce speed when passing over treated sections of the carriageway as there is a short-term heightened risk of skidding.

To ensure no bare patches are left, more chips are laid than are required for the finished job.

Although the newly-dressed road is mechanically swept a number of times after being treated, it takes several days for chips to embed fully into the bitumen.

Traffic passing slowly over a newly-dressed road helps to speed up this process, but when motorists exceed speed restrictions loose chips can prove hazardous.

Some patching work is also sometimes required, where a badly cracked section of roads are repaired prior to surface dressing, and these works will also be taking place throughout the area.


In combination, these processes can significantly add to the longevity of local roads at minimal cost, helping to protect them from severe weather and other damage, providing extra grip. Appropriate use of this technique has helped to routinely keep Aberdeenshire’s roads in the top 5 in the annual Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey.

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Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Roads, Landscape Services and Waste Management, Philip McKay, said

Warning signs advising of surface dressing works are always erected prior to work starting, and remain in place for several days after the work has been carried out.

While it sometimes may appear that a road is clear and suitable for normal use, there may still be loose chippings to watch out for, so I would urge road users to always adhere to the site signs and drive at the appropriate speed.

Driving at excessive speed over loose chippings can cause spinning and skidding, as well as chipping to windscreens and paintwork. I would urge road users to drive at the advised speed limit to avoid any accidents.

We appreciate that working on the road network can cause inconvenience to users, but I would ask that you bear with us as we carry out these essential repairs, which deliver long term benefits to road condition.

The council’s Director of Infrastructure Services, Stephen Archer, said

Surface dressing is often carried out while the road is still open to traffic, avoiding high numbers of road closures, so I would strongly advise motorists to take extra care when out on Aberdeenshire’s roads this summer.

Road users should always bear in mind that a roads crew could be carrying out surface dressing works just around the next corner – we want you and our colleagues to stay safe while we’re improving the roads network.

Aberdeenshire Council intends to regularly post information on its Twitter and Facebook feeds throughout the duration of the works to say where they will be taking place, which could help motorists plan their journeys to minimise any inconvenience.

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