Statistically speaking, rural roads are the most dangerous in the UK. So, it makes sense to be prepared. Here’s a few things to bear in mind…
The Risks of Rural Roads
Most people typically imagine that the most dangerous roads are those with the highest speed limits; or, alternatively, the most traffic; citing a-roads or motorways. However, statistically, you’re more likely to have a fatal accident on a rural or country road. Conversely, you’re least likely to have one on a motorway. Back in 2019, there were 931 fatalities recorded on country roads.
Unless otherwise stated, the speed limit on most rural roads is that of the national limit i.e. 60 mph. This is marked by the white, circular road side with a diagonal black stripe. Nevertheless, you’ll rarely want to be driving at 60 mph on roads in the countryside. Their winding nature and unpredictability means that high speeds can be very dangerous. It’s important not to let other, impatient drivers pressure you into travelling at speeds you’re not comfortable with.
Bends and Curves
Rural roads are rarely straight and, if they are, it won’t be for long. They bend, curve and wind. Moreover, how wide they are (or not) can change very suddenly – as can the quality of the road itself. For this reason, it makes sense to travel at a lower speed and to keep your eyes at the furthest point of the road ahead of you. This will allow you to plan ahead, detecting obstacles whilst there’s plenty of time with which to react.
As with any road, there will be times in which overtaking makes sense. However, due to the nature of rural roads, the manoeuvre can be more challenging and riskier. You should only ever attempt to overtake on a sufficiently long stretch of straight road, where you can clearly see oncoming traffic.
Other Road Users
Drivers should always be on the lookout for other road-users; especially now that the Government has implemented its ‘hierarchy of road-users’, prioritising traffic on the basis of vulnerability. Be aware that, on roads in the country, you’ll likely come across road-users that are rare elsewhere. These may include slow-moving agricultural vehicles, horse riders, livestock and wild animals. You must take care to drive very carefully around them, as to avoid startling or spooking them.
Rural roads are especially vulnerable to poor weather conditions. They’re often more likely to flood and, if they become frozen over, it may take longer for them to be gritted (assuming they are at all). In which case, keep tabs on weather reports and only make journeys when it’s safe to do so.
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