This week’s driving tips from the IAM’s head of driving standards, Peter Rodger are looking at how to drive safely on country roads.
Driving on rural roads can be a highly enjoyable experience. But did you know rural road accidents account for nearly two-thirds of road deaths? (1). Here are our top tips to ensuring your journey is as safe as possible.
- Look as far ahead as possible. If you can, look across bends and along the road – sometimes you can see the direction it is going to go in and spot any large vehicles coming towards you earlier.
- No matter how familiar you are with the road, you will always need to use your full concentration. Be extra cautious of oncoming vehicles, overgrown verges, bushes and bends in the road – you will need to adjust your speed accordingly.You must always be able to stop on your own side of the road in the space you can see is empty.
- Look out for wildlife warning signs. Drive at a steady speed so you have enough time to react and leave a wide enough berth to pass them safely. Summer is a busy time for deer’s in particular – especially around dusk and dawn.
- Country roads are also attractive to vulnerable road users including cyclists and pedestrians. Make sure you pass them wide and slow, even if this means holding back until you can do it safely.The same applies to horse riders.
- Keep an eye out for motorcyclists and allow them to overtake you if necessary. Check your mirrors regularly so you are aware of what is going on around you.
- Agricultural vehicles naturally travel at much slower speeds in comparison to cars. Avoid tailgating them, leave longer following distances, and only overtake them when it is safe to do so. Bear in mind some vehicles maybe longer and wider, don’t rush to overtake them if there is not enough room to manoeuvre.Harvest time is coming, so be patient with farmers who have a very busy period coming – these are their local roads. Remember that something travelling slowly – like a tractor – can turn immediately into a gate or field entrance.
- Where there are farm vehicles about there is likely to be slippery mud on the road when it’s wet. Don’t drive quickly through it as you’re more likely to skid and lose control of your car. And patches of mud on the road can be a clue of a tractor, or a herd of cows just round the bend.
- The national speed limit on rural roads is 60mph for both cars and motorcycles. However, speed limits differ for drivers that are towing, and for commercial vehicles.
Peter said: “Country roads offer the best this country has in pleasurable driving routes. But drivers must watch their speed, and not fall into the trap of thinking that they are always empty of other road users or hazards. Oncoming traffic, pedestrians, horses or cyclists on a narrow road should never be a surprise to you – expect the unexpected and maintain your vigilance.
“But get out there while summer is still here, and rediscover the joy of countryside driving.”