Les Gray, the new chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, said the standard of winter maintenance on the nation's busiest roads plunged after the job was tendered out to the private sector and should now be given back to councils.
In Scotland, councils used to grit all the roads, but responsibility for trunk roads - the country's major traffic arteries - was taken away in 1999 and is now contracted out by the government's Transport Scotland agency.
Gray said traffic officers wanted to see the front-line service brought back into the public sector. He said: "The service has not been the same since the councils lost their contracts to treat the trunk roads. Ultimately, of the roads are not getting gritted as frequently with as much salt as they used to be, then they are not as safe as they used to be.
"It used to be that you would see gritters on the go all day and all night. But now you could play a game of spot the gritter."
Councils list contracts to maintain such roads in 2000 under the Labour-LibDem Scottish Executive. They were replaced by private contractors, currently Amey, Scotland Transerv and Bear Scotland, which adhere to what officials insist are rigorous obligations.
Charlie Gordon, Labour's Scottish transport spokesman, said this winter's weather had exposed weaknesses in Scotland's ability to cope with extreme weather and described Gray's calls for renationalising maintenance "an important contribution to a debate that is only getting started".
Borders MSP (LibDem) Jeremy Purvis said: "We are at breaking point. We have been warning the government about the seriousness of the situation, but there is still no mechanism in place for central provision in Scotland."
Charlie Gordon and Jeremy Purvis are the very politicians who supported the privatisation of Scotland's main roads and yet criticise their own policy because the SNP are now in government.
I agree with Mr Gray. For twenty years I have lived near a main road which is the route to the local council roads depot. In winter the yellow flashing lights of gritters was constant, day and night. For the past 10 years the number has been drastically reduced and a couple a day is the norm now.
My council sold most of the roads depot land to Tesco and when I queried this, I was informed there was no longer any necessity to have so much ground because, with the privatisation, only a few vehicles and staff would be required. That certainly shows because before privatisation side roads would have been gritted far quicker than they have been this winter. Many people did clear their driveways and paths only to find that when a gritter did appear, after the festive holiday, it pushed the large mounds of hard-packed ice onto the pavements and over drive entrances.
Will the Scottish government now reconsider these private contracts and return the care of all our roads to the councils? It's seldom I praise council services, but my local council were superb at gritting and keeping all roads clear in winter weather. Of course that was once upon a time.