Driving on country roads can be daunting for even the most experienced of drivers.
Sharp bends, ditches and the possibility of being stuck behind a tractor are all factors that mean it's important to be hyper-aware of your surroundings. This section looks at the key things to consider when driving on country roads, whether you're a young, inexperienced driver or simply not used to driving on rural country lanes.
Young men are particularly in danger on Scotland's country roads. Country roads account for approximately 60% of all fatalities on Scotland's roads.
In 2018, over 700 people were killed or seriously injured on country roads – and of these, two thirds were men and nearly 40% were aged between 22-49.
No matter how well you think you know a route, it's crucial that you're prepared for the unexpected to happen – especially on country roads.
Most accidents on country roads are the result of driving too fast for the conditions and subsequent loss of control. Here's why you should adjust your speed behind the wheel:
When driving, it's better to rely on your skills than on luck.
As a general rule, drivers – and particularly young male drivers – take more risks on country roads than urban ones.
It's easy to underestimate the risks on country roads. To help stay safe, follow these tips:
Rural roads tend to be rather bendy, so slow down when approaching them - especially if you can't see past the bend - it may be a lot tighter than appears to be. Some drivers like to do a quick beep before going around blind corners, just in case there's an oncoming driver - but be aware that on some roads there may be horses and riders, so avoid doing this excessively.
As you negotiate bends repeatedly, your vehicle's centre of gravity will constantly shift making your stability and handling a little less safe, particularly at higher speeds.
A technique to use when dealing with bends:
Plan your trip in advance, especially if you're unfamiliar with the area. It's important to ensure that you know the route you're planning to drive - whether it's a country road or not. Be sure to take a map and a set of written directions as mobile signal can be patchy in rural areas.
Make sure you give cyclists and horses plenty of room if you're overtaking. It's also important to make sure you only overtake in a safe spot where you can see oncoming traffic.
When driving on country lanes, petrol stations can be rare so it's important to make sure your car has plenty of fuel before you venture off into the unknown. Breaking down on a single-laned country road can cause a multitude of problems as pile ups can easily happen.
If you're driving after dark, it's worth bearing in mind that country roads are rarely lit. Therefore it's recommended using your full-beam headlights so you can see what's going on ahead of you, but don't forget to take the full-beam off if you see oncoming traffic - you wouldn't want to blind someone and cause an accident.
Tractors and other slow-moving farm machinery are the bane of many country drivers lives. If you do get stuck behind one, don't take unnecessary risks - only overtake when you have enough room and can see the road ahead for any oncoming vehicles. It's also polite to wait your turn to overtake if you're in a queue of traffic.
Take care when driving on country roads and if you don't know the area don't be embarrassed to reduce your speed or stop in a safe place to ask for directions.