Danny Kennedy has launched the Roads Service winter service programme in Northern Ireland.
The Regional Development Minster is calling on all drivers to be prepared for the challenges of winter driving.
From now until the middle of April, Roads Service has almost 300 staff and over 130 gritters on standby every night to ensure that main roads are salted to help drivers cope with winter conditions.
Roads Service staff work to a tight schedule to ensure that over 7,000 kilometres or 4,400 miles of roads across Northern Ireland are treated with salt in around three and a half hours.
Over 800 tonnes of salt is used on average for the massive logistical undertaking of treating the entire route just once. Roads Service has reserves of 110,000 tonnes of salt which are topped-up regularly during the winter.
Kennedy said: “With winter fast approaching Roads Service is prepared to tackle the enormous job of keeping the main roads across Northern Ireland open.
“Our main effort will be to keep the motorways and trunk roads open. We will then focus on other main roads and busy urban link roads. As we seen earlier this year, even our best efforts can be hampered by heavy and sudden falls of snow.
“In addition to treating icy roads, during prolonged periods of snow, all salt spreading machinery will be fitted with snow ploughs.”
The Minister stressed that everyone has a role to play and has called on drivers to prepare by ensuring that their vehicles are fit for purpose.
Almost 5,000 salt bins and 50,000 grit piles have been strategically placed on roads not included on the salted network.
Information on salting and the latest road conditions is available at www.trafficwatchni.com