New research has revealed the type of road where young drivers are most likely to be involved in a fatal accident. It’s not where you might expect either – say, an A-road or motorway – but rural roads.
According to the AA, nearly 71% of fatal accidents involving folk between the age of 17-24 happen on country lanes and B-roads.
Worse still, the risk to young drivers on rural roads is 9% higher than the rest of the driving population who make up 57% of fatal accidents on the same roads.
“Our data clearly shows that the rural road risk is highest for the youngest drivers on our roads and decreases with each year of age. This is a clear sign that greater education and exposure to rural roads helps alleviate the risks they pose.”
• Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust
5 tips for staying safe on rural roads
To help you stay as safe as possible when driving through the countryside, here’s Theory Test Pro’s recommendations for keeping out of harm’s way:
1. Watch your speed
While rural roads typically feature narrow lanes and plenty of twists and turns, many still ‘allow’ you to drive at the national speed limit for single-carriageway roads – 60mph.
Alas, just because it says you can drive at 60 doesn’t mean it’s appropriate. Remember, that limit represents the maximum speed you can go, not the target speed.
So slow down and drive according to the conditions – and not your patience levels – at all times.
And remember, if you do cause an accident and are judged to have been travelling at an inappropriate speed for the road’s conditions, you can be done for dangerous driving; the penalties for which are far greater than being caught speeding.
2. Take off the blinkers
Many country roads have terrible visibility that massively increases the risk of being in an accident because of:
- Approaching vehicles that you might suddenly need to slow down for because the lane is so narrow.
- Cyclists who may be traveling side by side just round that next blind corner.
- Other roadside obstacles such as parked cars, ramblers/walkers, and more.
The rule of thumb? If you’re not sure what’s ahead, go slow.
3. Be aware at all times
Look for tell-tale signs that there could be a hazard up ahead. Perhaps there is a small gap in the hedge that reveals something round the next corner or a road sign warning you about steep gradients or the risk of animals crossing.
4. Drive to the conditions
Rain, snow and strong winds can dramatically increase risk with mud, leaves and other detritus able to wreck your stopping distances or in the case of fallen branches, ‘stop’ your car immediately.
Worst still, flooded roads and lanes are more common in the countryside and can appear round any corner. Floods risk ruining your car’s engine or worse still, making your vehicle aquaplane into the nearest ditch.
Remember, even if your own reaction times are spot on, your car’s won’t be under such conditions.
5. Reconsider overtaking
While slow-moving traffic is to be expected on country roads, don’t succumb to the natural urge to pull out and rip past.
First, make sure there is enough space and time to safely overtake but critically, ensure the vehicle you’re trying to get past isn’t about to turn right – or there isn’t another vehicle about to turn onto the road up ahead.
That might sound obvious but it’s easy to ‘miss’ seeing an oncoming junction on a country road; for instance, a tractor turning out of a field.
(P.S. Don’t horse about)
We have to give a special mention to riders and their horses. When approaching them from behind, slow right down and check if there is space to pass.
When safe to do so, go past, giving the horse a wide berth, while keeping your speed in single digits so you don’t risk alarming it.
Once the horse is in your review mirror, gently accelerate until you’re back up to an appropriate speed.
Ace your theory test
Double your chances of theory test success with Theory Test Pro. Sign up for free here.
Lane photo @ FotoFleeby