Whether you live in the country or want to experience the beautiful countryside, driving in rural areas can be dangerous if you are not careful, especially if you’re used to driving in more metropolitan areas. Scotland has some of the most beautiful scenic routes in the UK, and with the boom of ‘staycations’ more and more tourists are flocking to drive the famous North Coast 500. The UK’s National Statistics reported that although in 2020 a majority of causalities occurred on built-up urban roads, the majority of fatalities occurred on rural roads. However, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you are safe on the road.
1- Be Aware of the Speed Limit
The first thing that is often forgotten when driving out the country is the speed limit. There’s usually little to no sporadic traffic which can often lull drivers into a false sense of security. Rural roads often have higher average speed limits (compared to urban roads) that are sparsely posted so it’s important to make sure you drive below the speed limit. This is because there are often agricultural vehicles, as well as winding roads to be aware of.
2- Road Quality
Roads in the country are often old and somewhat neglected compared to those in the city or suburban areas. It’s important that you drive carefully as these roads can be unpaved, have potholes, and no road markings. Rural roads are also often more sinuous and narrower in nature with blind bends, dips, and other distractions.
3- Use Passing Places
Always make sure you are using caution when passing vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders etc. on the road. Rural areas often have long stretches of one-track road that have small laybys for slower vehicles to use, so faster ones can pass safely.
4- Watch for Hidden Driveways
Rural areas often have scattered residences, farms, and villages. When driving on countryside roads, watch for hidden driveways that could contain hidden vehicles waiting to come out onto the road. These driveways are often hidden by hedges, fencing, or even curving roads or hills.
5- Be Aware of Agricultural Vehicles
Tractors, ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), residential cars are often found on rural roads. Remember that often these vehicles, like tractors, often travel well below the speed limit as they may have limited visibility. Always make sure that you keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you, especially if you are wanting to make a manoeuvre like overtaking safely.
6- Look Out for Livestock
In the countryside, it won’t look out of place to see livestock being moved across rural roads from one field to another. There should be road signs marking these areas and warning drivers to slow down and use caution. Make sure you take corners slowly, and if you do happen to come across livestock being moved from one side of the road to another, make sure you stop leaving plenty of room between you and the animals. It’s important you wait patiently and avoid revving your engine or honking your horn to not spook the animals. You should also remain in your vehicle until it is safe to continue driving.
Country roads often have fewer streetlights than cities or suburban areas. Expect darker conditions when driving at night. As well remembering to put your lights on, consider putting them on high beam to increase your visibility. You should also be cautious of residents out for walks or a run that may not be wearing hi-vis clothing, and even animals that may be on the road.
Taking a drive in the country can be a wonderful experience as you enjoy the vistas, fields, and country houses. It’s important to remember that rural roads are not used to get places faster, they are often used as scenic routes, so make sure you pay attention to your surroundings are respect the people and animals that inhabit the area.