This week the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) released a helpful guide on how to drive on our lovely country roads. With motorways and dual carriage ways criss crossing the UK the amount of time people spend on a true country road has fallen greatly in recent years. These winding, narrow and often challenging little roads can pose a real problem for those who are not aware of the potential dangers lurking around every corner.
Always try to look ahead, this may seem obvious but often the corners are vary greatly and sometimes you can get a glimpse of the general direction across more than just the corner you are on if you keep a eye out. The danger is large farm vehicles coming towards you, and you may miss an early sign of them if you only focus on the immediate road ahead.
Even if you are familiar with the stretch of country road, drive it as though you were not. Always be prepared to stop on your side of the road at any moment so keep possible passing points in your mind. Country roads change with the seasons, an open road in the winter can be an overgrown jungle in the summer, caution is the key.
Wildlife signs are important. They are not just there to tell you to keep an eye out for deer because they are nice to look at. If you see an animal sign drive in a way that allows you to stop quickly. Deer can not only damage cars in a collision, they can injure people too. Deer tend to hang around the edge of a road before crossing together so be aware of the verges.
Country roads are often the choice for walkers, horse riders, cyclists and other more vulnerable road users that choose to stay off the main roads. Keep an eye out for this people as you go round corners, they may be halfway round a long bend and not visible at the start.
Country roads are used by farm vehicles. Tractors and other farm vehicles are not fast, tailgating them wont make them any faster, if you are on country roads then you need to be prepared to drive at a slow speed behind them until they turn off. Sitting close behind farm vehicles means you cant see round them, it also means you may hit them if they stop or turn suddenly into a field. Colliding with the back of a tractor or other larger vehicle will not end well, they don’t have bumpers and crumple zones like cars, they have large sharp things poking out and you would not want any of them going into your car.
Where there is country, there is farming and where there is farming there is mud. It may look fine but mud on the road, even when it has dried, can be slippery. Braking hard over anything other than clean tarmac is likely to cause the car to skid, the ABS on your car will do most of the work but drive at a speed that means you plan for longer braking zones.
Enjoy Our Real Roads
British country roads are unique and a pleasure to drive. High verges, farms, woods and often hidden views are all part of the country road experience but plan for and be extra careful of the potential dangers. Drive sensibly and you will enjoy an engaging drive, ignore the warnings and you could find yourself in a hedge or in the back of a tractor.