In the UK alone, 10 times as many people die on rural roads than on motorways. That is over 1000 people per year. In fact according to the IRTAD Road Safety Annual Report 2020, the majority of traffic fatalities occur on rural roads in most countries. Both Brake, the Road Safety Charity and IRTAD cite inappropriate and relatively high speeds coupled with the common characteristics of rural roads, such as narrow lanes, poor or no lane separation, poor surface conditions and poorly maintained roadsides, as the main causes of accidents and their severity.
Here are our top tips for driving on rural roads:
1) Be aware of the speed limit – but drive at a safe speed for the nature of the road. Brake’s campaign of “Safe not 60” in the UK is a great reminder to drive at the speed that is appropriate for the road and conditions, not necessarily to the speed limit. And on rural roads, where obstacles in the road, like horses, mud or debris or farm vehicles are commonplace, drivers need to be driving slow enough to give themselves time to react.
2) Bends and overtaking – trees and high hedges alongside roads can obscure your line of sight, particularly on bends, so always adjust your driving to account for this and use your horn on blind bends to alert other drivers to your presence. Keep an eye out for debris and potholes in the road and don’t overtake if you don’t have to.
3) Other road users – on rural roads you will encounter tractors, heavy vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, caravans, horses and horseboxes and even livestock. Always remember to allow other road users plenty of room.