Driving Safely on Country Roads

Driving Safely on Country Roads

The spring and summer holiday season is a peak time for accidents on rural roads. The problem seems to be that many drivers who are more used to urban conditions and driving in heavy traffic assume that they can put their foot down when they reach the countryside. In fact statistics show that rural roads can be more dangerous for the unwary driver than motorways. Allianz Your Cover provides you with some key tips on how to keep safe when driving on country roads:

  • Watch your speed. The legal limit on many country roads is sixty, but in reality there are many rural lanes where driving at this speed would be dangerous. So suit your speed to the conditions and visibility, and stay aware of potential hazards.
  • Expect the unexpected. You are unlikely to meet animals in the middle of the road in town – it’s not an unusual occurrence in the countryside. If there are road signs warning of deer, drop your speed and stay alert to signs of movement at the side of the road. Deer have a nasty habit of leaping out into the road without warning, and both car and occupants may suffer damage if you hit one.
  • Remember that there might be a hazard around a blind bend. You are far more likely to meet a slow-moving vehicle like a tractor on a country road, or cyclists, walkers and horse-riders. On winding lanes where your forward view is limited you cannot assume that the road is clear. If you meet riders, don’t drive up behind them or rev your engine – drop back and wait for a suitable chance to pass safely, giving them a wide berth.
  • Take account of the road surface. Many rural roads are less well-maintained than major highways, and road verges can be ragged and potholed. Many drivers have had to replace a wheel or tyre as a result of hitting a pothole that they only saw at the last moment. Country lanes can often be slippery or muddy where agricultural vehicles have moved onto a road from a field, presenting a hazard if you have to brake unexpectedly. A poor surface or camber can also lead to water collecting on the road, so if it has rained recently watch out for standing water, and avoid braking if at all possible if you do hit a patch.
  • Observe the single-lane code. If you are driving on a single track lane, keep very alert for cars coming in the opposite direction, and notice when you pass pull-in points. The informal country code is that if two vehicles meet on a single-track road, the one closest to a passing place reverses (unless of course it would involve reversing up a steep hill).
  • Don’t assume that night-driving is safer. Many drivers think that because they can see the lights of any on-coming cars well ahead driving at night in the countryside is safer. In fact there are just as many hazards, even if they are different ones! Wild animals like foxes and badgers are more likely to be out and about at night, and because road markings are not always as clear or well-maintained in rural areas, and are less visible in the dark, you may come across a junction or tight bend without warning.

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