Going for a long drive in the countryside can be one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a few hours at the weekend, but if you are used to driving in the city, it can also be a bit disorientating to say the least.
Unlike the usually straightforward roads in the city, country roasts can be long, meandering and filled with all kinds of unexpected twists and turns literally and figuratively in the form of rogue sheep, unexpected water and misleading routes.
So, if you are planning to hit those country roads for spectacular views, any time soon, and you aren’t used to doing so, here are a few tips for driving in the countryside that will help you cope with your trip much better, and ensure that you have a really amazing time too:
Watch out for corners and blind bends
Did you know that 72 percent of all deaths on the road happen in rural locations or that the car accident injury claim is significantly higher in the country too? Many of these accidents, injuries and fatalities are caused by the corners and blind bends that are often more common on country roads than when driving in the city.
The fact is that, when you are driving on country roads, you will find that they tend to be much narrower than city roads, while also being much windier too. This means it can be tricky to see what is coming up ahead of you, and also that you have less room to manoeuvre when you come upon that horse rider, cyclist or tractor on the other side of the road.
As a result, it is really important that you stay alert, maintain a sade speed and ensure that you have more than enough stopping distance, even if that means you drive more slowly than you really need to. Obviously, you should not drive too slowly as that also has its hazards, but a safe speed and stopping distance is of even more importance when you are on a winding country road than it is elsewhere.
Remember it can get pretty dark
People who are used to driving in the city are used to it never being truly dark due to the lights of shops, homes and advertising billboards all combining to keep the place light and bright. When you are in the country, this is often not the case. Some stretches of road will not even have any streetlights in place, which means it can get pretty dark.
If you want to stay safe in such circumstances, then you really do need to think about using your headlights on full beam. This will ensure that you see any pedestrians, wildlife or cyclists on the road before it is too late. But remember, you should always dip your headlights on full beam when you see another car approaching otherwise you run the risk of dazzling the driver which could result in an accident in its own right.
Take care around tractors
If you’re not used to driving in the countryside then you are probably not going to be used to the presence of tractors on the road. Tractors are an important part of country life helping farmers to effectively manage their land, but many road users find them annoying due to the fact that they can only move quite slowly compared to other vehicles.
If you find yourself getting annoyed by tractors, it is important to remind yourself that they are moving so slowly because they literally cannot go any faster, so it would be pointless to get annoyed and start beeping your horn.
It is also important to remember that tractors are often much longer than they appear to be, especially if they happen to have a front-loader in place. So, if you are thinking about overtaking them, you first need to ensure it is really safe to do so.
It’s also important to bear in mind that tractors only have to use indicators and brake lights at night, so they might well turn off unexpectedly without signalling, which means you need to give them a wide berth and ensure that your full attention is on the road.
You should also bear in mind that tractors are often only going to be travelling a short distance, so if you are not confident you can overtake one carefully, it may be worth just staying behind because chances are they will turn off at any moment and you will be able to get on with your journey without taking any unnecessary risks.
Watch out for water
Often, when driving in the countryside, especially in autumn and winter, you will happen upon a stretch of road that has been submerged due to flooding. If you are unfamiliar with that road, and you are not sure how deep the water is or what lies underneath it, then it is a very good idea to turn back or otherwise avoid driving through it because doing so could be dangerous. As a general rule of thumb, if the waster on the road is more than four inches deep, you should find another way to get where you want to be.
If you inadvertently drive through a pool of water, you should drive very slowly and be prepared to reverse back out if it feels unsafe in any way. Once you have gotten past the flooded stretch of road, you should pull over in a safe place to check if any damage has been done to your vehicle. You should also very carefully test your brakes because water can often affect them and it would obviously be unsafe to continue driving if your brakes have been damaged in any way.
The animal issue
Almost a billion animals are farmed in the UK annually, so it is not unusual to see lots of animals in fields when you are driving in the countryside. Unfortunately, from time to time, you may also see them on the road and they could present a potential danger to you if you do.
Larger animals, like sheep, cows and horses could cause serious damage to you and your vehicle if you were to hit one. So, it’s important not to spook them when you see them.
If you see a horse and rider in the road ahead, for example, it is really important that you slow down and give them a wide berth, driving past them as wide as you can if it is possible to do so.
You should never toot your horn at any animal as this could spook them and cause them to behave erratically which would be dangerous for everything and everyone on the road.
If other animals, like cows or sheep, are on the road, ideally, you should wait until they have moved on before you do anything, Even something as simple as revving the engine can spook them and cause chaos in the countryside. So, although it can be annoying, be patient and don’t make any sudden moves or noises that could scare them.
Smaller animals, like rabbits and hedgehogs, are not an uncommon sight on country roads either. Many people worry about hitting them because, of course, we are a nation of animals lovers.
If you stay alert and drive defensively, it is unlikely that you will ever hit a small animal on your country drives, However, there are times when hitting a small animal is the lesser evil if it means you would otherwise have to swerve dangerously into the road, so just bear that in mind.
Pack for an emergency
When you’re driving in the countryside, you need to be prepared for any eventuality. Although it is really unlikely that you will get into an accident or have an emergency, especially if you take note of these tips, there is always a chance something could go wrong.
If the worst does happen, you may find that getting a phone signal can be tricky, which is why you should pack warm blankets, a first aid kit, a high vis jacket and plenty of food and water, so that should the worst happen, you can stay safe and get help even if your phone is not in full working order.
It’s also why you should check the car is in good working order before you head off on an adventure too.
Driving safely in the countryside
As you can see, the countryside is filled with many potential hazards that you do not often have to worry about in the city, which is why it is so important that you prepare yourself before driving in the countryside for the first time. It is also why it is so important that you take driving in the countryside seriously, stay alert and do not take any stupid risks.
Driving in the countryside, taking in the scenery and feeling the wind in your hair is one of life’s simplest pleasures, so don’t ruin it by not driving carefully enough, and stay safe out there!