Driver Safety – Rural
There’s a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from driving skilfully on country lanes. There are other benefits too – there’s usually less traffic, fewer 30 mph speed limits, and some great views.
But it’s important to remember that rural roads account for around three quarters of all fatal road collisions. Here are some to tips on staying safe driving on rural roads:
Country lanes normally have a speed limit of 60 mph for cars and motorcycles. But often much slower is safer. But your golden rule is that you must always be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear ahead. And on narrow roads where there is no central white line, think about being able to stop in HALF the distance you can see to be clear ahead, simply because if you meet someone coming the other way, you will both need road space to stop safely.
In poor weather, at night or on congested roads, then you will need to adjust your speed accordingly – to fit the road and weather conditions.
On country roads there are tractors, combine harvesters (most with drivers wearing ear defenders, so they won’t hear you) and other agricultural vehicles. They probably can’t go as fast as you want to go, but that doesn’t mean you should be on their tail, trying to get past as soon as possible. They can be long and wide, so build that into your pre-overtaking plan.
Expect to see dogs, horses, sheep, cows and other farmyard animals. They might be on the road because they’re being herded somewhere – or they might have escaped, making their behaviour entirely unpredictable. Always slow down for animals and give them plenty of room.
Also expect wild animals. A deer, for example, is a heavy animal and could cause significant damage to the front of your car or your windscreen, following a high speed impact. If you see warning signs for animals, take them seriously. They’re there for a reason.
Cyclists and pedestrians
Cyclists, ramblers, and families out for a stroll are all possible on country lanes. Get into the habit of expecting to see someone on foot as you approach every bend or brow of a hill.
Holidaymakers like country lanes, especially ones in Gloucestershire. They like the views and the space. But they’re not going to be in any hurry. Be ready to follow a car towing a caravan at slow speeds, especially in summer.
Rural roads are the favorite route of many a motorcycle rider. If there’s a motorcyclist behind you, don’t deliberately try to obstruct it if you know the rider wants to come past. Don’t be put off, either, if the rider is out in the middle of the road one moment, then tucked back towards the kerb a moment later. Riders are taught to position themselves to get the best forward view. Lastly, if you do see a motorcyclist approaching you (either in front or in your mirror), expect to see companions, as recreational bikers tend to ride together.