How to drive on country roads

Horse on country road.jpg

To B or not to B

Well, summer’s here at last. The cuckoos of spring are just a distant memory, the clouds have rolled back and it’s time for some fun in the sun. 

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a great time to take the car out for long, lazy drives around country lanes…after all, when the weather’s good, why hurry? The trouble is that some people do – and that’s when things can go wrong. 

Know your limits 

Let’s get one thing out of the way at the start. Driving too fast doesn’t always mean breaking the speed limit. Think about the last time you took a B road. Unless you were driving through a village, the speed limit was probably 60 miles per hour for most of your journey. Now, you *could* drive at that speed and remain within the legal speed limit.  Life’s never that easy though, is it?   
So what should you be thinking about? 

  • What you can see. Do you have a clear view of the road ahead? Country roads are often narrow with blind bends. You need to think about what might be just out of sight. Can you cope if you need to stop suddenly? 
  • Are you familiar with the route? If you’re not, those tight corners and blind bends could well come as a surprise to you 
  • What’s the weather like? Wet weather, the mulch from leaves and mud from farm vehicles all make a difference to tyre grip
  • How much traffic is there and what kind of traffic is it? 
  • Don’t let beautiful scenery and seemingly empty country roads fool you. You need to be alert as you’ll get little, if any, warning. For example, you might find farm animals in the road, horse riders, pedestrians, cyclists or even huge farm machines that take up most of the road.

The final point is so important that it needs a bullet of its own:

  • You can never predict what’s going to happen on your journey. No, I don’t mean that something far out might happen like a shower of pink sea horses appearing on the road or Elvis filling up your car at the petrol station. I’m talking about other road users. What you can do is use your hazard perception skills,  keep scanning all around and drive at a speed that will allow you stop safely if you come across an unexpected hazard.

Put a brake on it 

If this sounds a bit of a boring nag, then, well, I’ll hold my hands up to that. But it’s really important that you know this stuff. If you still need convincing, read this: 

  • The number of people killed on country roads is nearly 10 times higher than the number of people killed on motorways 
  • A third of fatalities on country roads happen on bends 

It might seem crazy, but it’s true. So slow down…if you can’t stop in the distance you can see to be clear ahead of you, then you really do need to take it steady. Besides, it’s summer and you could be enjoying your driving rather rushing from place to place!

Yearning to learn 

For more help, advice and guidance, whizz over to the Safe Driving for Life shop and pick up a copy of The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills. If you're looking for help with your theory test, we’ve got you covered, too. The Official DVSA Learning Zone has all the study materials you need to prepare with confidence.