Tag Archives | rural roads

Country ways

Driving on country roads makes special demands, with speed and lack of uniformity contributing to the challenge. Speed on rural roads can be tricky and posted speed limits deceptive, so it’s best not to see them as a target. Often the national speed limit of 60mph is far too fast for a country road, so keep assessing whether you’re at the right speed for the conditions and whether you feel in control. Rural roads are often interspersed with villages, which usually have strict (and strictly enforced) speed restrictions and traffic calming measures, so drive cautiously and at a moderate speed (most have posted limits of 20 or 30mph). Be aware of sudden changes in speed signage and be especially vigilant around school drop-off and pick-up times. Official signs aren’t the only ones to caution you, skid marks and damaged fences are a good indication that the road is hazardous at that point.

Overtaking on rural roads

Always think twice before overtaking on a single carriageway country road and only do so if it’s essential, this doesn’t include feeling impatient because someone is driving a few mph slower than you want to. In this situation, even if you are stuck behind an extremely slow moving vehicle, cool-headed, responsible drivers hang back and relax. This is because it’s incredibly risky to overtake on rural roads where there will rarely be enough straight, visible road ahead to be certain nothing is coming in the opposite direction.

Rural reminder

Although rural roads are generally quieter than main roads in towns and cities, driving them safely involves practice and consideration. For example, some rural roads will not have markings to indicate where the centre of the road is. If this is the case, you’ll need to think about lane positioning and be careful to ensure you stick to the left hand side of the road. Bear in mind that large vehicles, like tractors or lorries, may be coming in the opposite direction, so you must be prepared to slow down and possibly stop on a narrow lane.

Driving on rural roads at night opens up more challenges. It’s likely that there won’t be street lighting, so you’ll have to rely on your dipped headlights and full beam to illuminate the road ahead. Make sure you adjust your speed appropriately, always remembering that you should be able to stop in the space you can see ahead of you. It’s also likely there’ll be more animals around at night, so be prepared in case something runs out in front of you.

Know your white lines

Many roads have a white line or ‘edge line’ painted along the outside to help identify the edge of the road, nothing more. It’s often painted where there is no kerb to distinguish the road surface from the verge and where there’s a greater risk you might run off the road. It’s also used along roads prone to fog and mist, heavily trafficked roads where headlamp dazzle is severe and at sudden changes of carriageway width.

The edge line is particularly useful on bendy rural roads as it helps draw you towards the edge of the road, rather than the centre line and it improves your assessment of the curve, reducing steering fluctuation around the bend. Having a road marked out so clearly also helps reduce your mental workload. It’s not illegal to park on an edge line and you may have noticed on some roads, particularly in 30mph zones, that the edge line is painted quite far away from the verge or kerb. This gives the impression that the road is narrower than it is, which has a natural speed calming effect.