From incredibly tight bends to herds of sheep, country roads are full of hazards that you’re unlikely to find on your daily commute. In fact, on average, three people die on country roads every day. Plus, there are 10 times as many fatalities on rural roads than on motorways, according to the RAC Foundation. Therefore, if you’re looking to embark on your first drive through the countryside, it’s worth preparing for the journey in advance.
Here you’ll find our top tips for driving on country roads, which will help to keep you, your passengers, and other drivers safe. Read on to find out more.
Adjust your speed
Most UK country roads have a speed limit of 60mph. However, this is rarely a safe speed to travel, according to road safety charity Brake.
On country roads, you should pay less attention to speed limits and, instead, adjust your speed according to the conditions. Rural roads tend to be narrow with blind bends, and rarely have pavements or cycle paths. Therefore, you need to be travelling at a speed that allows you to react to any hazards quickly and effectively.
When you’re driving at 60mph, your stopping distance will be approximately 73 metres — that’s the length of three tennis courts. So, if you turn a corner and encounter an oncoming vehicle or group of pedestrians, you’ll have no chance of stopping in time. Speeds of around 40mph are more appropriate when you’re driving in the countryside.
Look out for clues
You need to be very vigilant when driving on country roads, and should constantly be looking for clues of what lies ahead.
For example, if you see skid marks or notice a broken fence at the side of the road, there may have been an accident there recently. So, it’s wise to take your time so you can react to any hazards in plenty of time.
It’s also vital that you keep an eye out for road-side poles that display instructions or warnings. If you find one with a number of signs, you should read it from the top down and be prepared to deal with any hazards in that order.
Expect the unexpected
As we’ve mentioned, there are far more hazards on country roads. From slow-moving tractors to herds of cows, you should be prepared to encounter the unexpected.
You should move at a steady pace, and stay alert. Sharp turns, dips in the road, and hiddencrests are all common hazards that you’re likely to come across when driving on rural roads, so you need to be ready to slow down or stop at a moment’s notice.
Keep overtaking to a minimum
When driving on country roads, you should try to overtake as little as possible. When you do need to overtake, make sure that you won’t be putting yourself or other drivers in danger. The best way to do this is to anticipate what might happen when you pull out to overtake. Are you sure that the vehicle in front of you isn’t going to turn right, and that no traffic is going to join the carriageway from a side road? If you aren’t 100% sure that it’s safe to overtake, you should hang back — it isn’t worth putting yourself in danger to get to your destination slightly earlier.
If you don’t have much experience, driving on rural roads can be overwhelming. But, if you worry too much, you run the risk of getting distracted. So, while you need to remain alert for your entire journey, you should also try to relax and take everything as it comes.
In their guide to de-stressing on your drive, Lookers recommends preparing well for your trip and creating a relaxing atmosphere in your vehicle. This will help to keep you calm and collected while you’re tackling those country roads for the first time.
Next time you’re driving on rural roads, keep these five tips in mind. They’ll help keep you safe and calm until you reach your destination.