Every winter, the roads of Scotland welcome a fleet of salt trucks, known locally as “gritters.” As in the United States, Canada, and most other places with an annual dumping of snow and ice, they plough up and down the roads, distributing their grit and salt. Almost every nook and cranny of Scotland is thoroughly de-iced—Perth and Stirling, Edinburgh and Glasgow, even all the way up the snaking path to Thurso and Wick in the furthest reaches of Scotland’s northern corner. There are nearly 100 of these “winter vehicles,” infrastructure company BEAR Scotland told the BBC, of which 45 are “32-tonne eight wheeler spreaders”—the monster truck of the gritter ecosystem.
At any given moment, the trucks are working away to keep Scotland’s roads safe, with their progress available for all to see on an online map, which updates in real time. But a closer look at this map, with its jaunty yellow vehicles, reveals something still more charming: An awful lot of these salt trucks have very, very good names. Gritty Gritty Bang Bang is putting in the hard yards near Aberuthven. Dynamic duo Ice Buster and Ice Destroyer are making themselves useful near Glasgow and Loch Lomond. Three trucks apparently hold knighthoods—Sir Salter Scott, Sir Andy Flurry, Sir Grits-a-Lot. At least two (Ice Queen and Mrs. McGritter) are female. Every one is excellent.
Back in 2006, Transport for Scotland, which runs the online map, asked Scottish primary school children to come up with some names for the new fleet. Mr. Plow, Gritty Gonzales, and Ready Spready Go were among the winning contenders emblazoned on the sides of the trucks. (Amazingly, they managed to resist the call of Trucky McTruckface.) Twelve years on, the vehicles are still going strong, simultaneously de-icing the roads and warming the cockles of Scottish hearts and internet bystanders in a glorious, eight-wheeled, slam dunk.