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Top tips for rural driving

If you learn to drive in York or across the county, then you’re probably accustomed to driving on rural country roads – although still a little wary. From winding roads with sharp bends and unexpected farmyard hazards, these roads are a far stretch from what you experience when driving in the city. Away from the hustle and bustle of rush hour traffic, you might assume that driving in the countryside comes without its limitations or cautions – well, you’d be wrong.

Despite being thought of as a safe and tranquil place for most people, taking on the roads that run through countryside areas comes with a lot of risk. Statistics show that as much as 58% of all fatalities in Great Britain occurred on rural roads in 2018.

So, before you undertake a journey through any rural areas, we’d recommend that you consider a few dos and don’ts that’ll make things that little bit safer. Read on to find out more.

DON’T – race against the speed limit

As is the case with all roads and areas, there are designated speed limits that you must adhere to. However, when it comes to rural roads, it’s best not to take these with a pinch of salt. In situations such as sharp bends, unpredictable wildlife and changing conditions, drivers are advised to adjust their speed limit based on circumstances, rather than travelling at the maximum, just because they can. It’s far easier to stay alert when you are driving slightly slower than you would on a main road.

DO – take extra care on winding roads

As you approach one of the many winding roads you’ll encounter on your journey, the best practice is to slow your car ahead of the bend, keeping to a speed limit that would allow you to quickly stop if a sudden hazard emerged from around the corner. Another handy tip is to look ahead of you on the roads and use the tree lines, telegraph poles and upcoming hedges to help you determine where the road is set to go next.

Think you already have all of this locked in and under control? If you find yourself braking just as you enter a bending stretch of road, then this will likely mean that you were travelling too fast and didn’t actually have full control of your car.

DON’T – speed through flooded areas

Rural areas are extremely prone to flooding as they’re located amongst bodies of water such as lakes, ponds and valleys – all of which can be subject to overflowing, particularly after torrential rain. Not only can driving through flooded roads be incredibly dangerous, but it can also be damaging to your vehicle.

Driving (particularly recklessly or without care) through flooded areas can cause a number of problems to your car. It can cause severe damage to the engine, while all low-lying components on your car will be at risk from water damage, as that is the first point of contact with the puddles. The general rule is that you should entirely avoid any body of water that is over half the height of your tyre.

Flooding also impairs your driving abilities. With the road hidden by water, you have no idea of the quality of the street beneath you, meaning you could easily fall down potholes or hit a curb. If you have no choice but to travel through the waters, then it’s best to do so at a slow pace, ready to reverse if the flooding ends up being too deep. Also, if possible, we’d recommend getting your brakes checked after going through deep water. Better to be safe than sorry!

DO – be mindful of slipping hazards on the roads

Much like the concerns with flooding, mud and manure on the roads is more than likely to be found on rural roads. With farms surrounding these roads, and farm-based vehicles using them frequently, it’s no surprise that residue from the fields can end up being littered across your path. If mud and wet leaves accumulate together on the roads, then the conditions will become incredibly slippery, therefore hindering your precision when driving. Best practice is to slow down or go around these obstacles to avoid slipping and losing control of your vehicle.

And of course, with manure comes animals – you’re likely to encounter horses, sheep and even cows on the road. If this happens, you should stay at least a car’s width away from the animal and avoid sudden noises or movements, so as not to spook or scare them (or in the case of horses, their rider).

These dos and don’ts should help you to navigate your way safely through rural areas. The key point to take away from this is to drive with caution and be prepared to brake when needed. Stay poised and alert, and you’ll be a master of these roads in no time!