Safe Driving on Country Roads

Did you know that 60% of all road fatalities occur on country roads and lanes? According to Think!this makes them the most dangerous type of road to travel on in the UK. Our country roads and lanes consist of a mixture of bends, blind spots and unexpected hazards appearing on the roads, as well we some drivers driving at a speed that is too fast to travel for their surroundings. Statistics from the road safety charity, Brake, show that per mile that is travelled on the country road cyclists are three times more likely to be killed, where motorcyclists and car occupants are two times more likely to be killed than those who travel on urban roads and motorways.

Speed

The most obvious rule to obey is to not exceed the speed limit. A study shows that how a 10% increase of the average speed could result in a 30% increase to a more serious and fatal crash. After all there is a speed limit for a reason. Although if you are travelling along a road that displays the national speed limit sign it does not mean that you should drive at the full speed all of the way.

Think!also advises you to read the road ahead of you carefully, so you can slow down and prepare for corners, blind summits, concealed entrances, cyclists, walkers, horse riders etc. Extra room and space should be allowed when you are passing vulnerable road users such as cyclists, walkers and horse riders. For the horse especially make sure you turn down any music, drive as slow as you can and avoid revving the car engine until you have passed to prevent startling them.

Your view may be blocked or restricted by verges, hedgerows and trees which can prevent you from seeing a hazard in front of you. This is why you should keep at a steady speed as other road users may not have spotted you - preventing a collision due to a restricted view. There could be a broken down vehicle around the bend, you may have to overtake a horse rider or perhaps some animals have escaped from their fields and if you are travelling too fast you will not have enough time to think and react which will increase the chance of an accident.

Slow moving vehicles

While driving along a country road you may meet a slow moving vehicle such as a tractor or a horse box which you may want to overtake to carry on with your journey. It is advised that you stay patient and behind the vehicle as the roads are not very wide and full of bends it will be difficult to judge whether it is safe to pass. Some slow moving vehicles may pull into a lay-by at the side of the road so traffic can overtake, but trying to anticipate whether or not to overtake can become hazardous.

Looking for clues

Even if you are familiar with a country road you shouldn't let your knowledge get the better of you - as this can become dangerous. You may be fully aware of the road but the driving conditions and surroundings can change.

Always keep an eye out on the road for an indication of what could be ahead of you - mud on the road could indicate that there is a tractor ahead.

If you come across a sign saying that there is a concealed entrance ahead then always expect to see a vehicle to be waiting to come out of the entrance or a car waiting to turn in, so that you are prepared. You must obey all road signs - road works signs, temporary traffic lights and 'slippery road' signs all indicate that you may have to come to a stop so reducing your speed at the first glimpse can result in the avoiding a collision or harsh breaking further ahead.

Finally take a look for skid marks on the road. They could be a result of a driver coming into trouble before you, so learn from their mistake and be aware and if so slow down.

It is a good and sensible idea for all drivers to adjust their driving speed and style while they're travelling on country roads. If all drivers took more care to drive more slowly and cautious they can be more prepared for the unexpected then our country roads would become a much safer place for all road users.