Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging drivers to pay extra attention on rural road journeys this summer. Although traffic levels are generally lighter, rural roads account for nearly 60% of all fatalities (a total of 943 in 2015, compared with 577 on urban roads).
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth says: “Driving in the countryside is usually a great pleasure, with good views, quiet roads and a variety of interesting terrain. But a narrow, twisting road offers very little clue as to what might be round the next bend. That’s why we’re urging drivers to expect the unexpected and to make sure they have time and space to stop safely if necessary.
“What’s round the corner on a rural road with restricted visibility? It could be another car or a motorcycle coming towards you too fast, a group of cyclists on a ride out, sheep or cattle crossing the road, a horse and rider, a wild animal, a slow-moving farm tractor…
“The point is that until you have perfect sight of what’s ahead, you need to be ready to anticipate what could be there. By adjusting your speed and position accordingly, you’re doing your bit to keep yourself and the other road users safe.”
GEM has prepared a selection of simple driver tips to help improve rural road safety:
- Make sure you use any existing signage to help you. Usual signs include a series of white chevron signs on a black background, indicating a sharp bend. Slow down, even if the posted speed limit is 30 mph.
- The narrowness of country lanes means that passing places are sometimes provided into embankments or verges. Be prepared to reverse into these if necessary.
- Stay safe by never exceeding the signed limit. Country lanes are often used as a short cut or an escape from congested main roads. Using them may actually be a longer way round to your destination leading you to be in a hurry. Slow down.
- Country lanes may be in a poor state of repair. At any sign of this be ready for pot-holes and other broken surfaces that can seriously damage your vehicle.
- Give horse riders a very slow and wide berth and keep your distance until it becomes safe to pull past.