Are rural roads worse than those on the highway or in urban centers? Yes, usually. This is almost inevitable. Obviously, the money for road maintenance and improvement is better spent where more drivers are using the road.
That said, while you will not find any super strong highway crash barriers on rural roads, these roads do come with the great advantage of fewer motorists to contend with – certainly, you don’t hear about many pile ups on rural roads.
Of course, this is not to say that such roads are easier to drive on. In many cases, they are not. Highway protection products manufacturer Valtir say that the lack of other motorists can even come with a particular danger – cars will drive faster and appear out of nowhere. Some extra caution in this area is very certainly advised.
But then again, most roads in the U.S. are rural, and it’s not like driving in the countryside is a particularly unusual task. There is plenty of advice for navigating rural roads safely. The biggest danger is probably being lulled into a false sense of security after driving for a long time without any hazards.
Hazards of Rural Roads
So, when you go driving through the countryside, what are the hazards which you might have to contend with? Here follows some of them:
Lower Paving Quality
This doesn’t always mean the roads are substandard and unsafe. However, it does mean that they are not really suited to high speeds. Paving is also variable; you could find yourself driving over anything from a paved road to a gravel or dirt track.
A tractor towing a large grass cutter is going to have impaired visibility and might not see you coming up from behind. Because of the speed tractors go, you will usually have to overtake them. Given the impaired visibility, you should do this carefully.
As mentioned above, you could find certain – foolish – drivers driving at speed down country roads thinking that there aren’t any other vehicles to crash into. Given that these roads can be winding and don’t have many safety features in place, this could be disaster that comes out of nowhere.
Rural Driving Tips
So, that’s a few of the specific things you’re up against. Here follows some more general tips for driving on rural roads:
Heed the Speed Limit
And if there isn’t one, err on the side of caution and reduce your speed. A quick glance at the perils of rural driving should make it obvious why speed can be especially dangerous here.
Plan Your Route
It is not only that you can get lost on rural roads, but you could unintentionally drive onto more dangerous strips of road without knowing it. Plan your route and take precautions where you need to.
Allow for Short Closing Distances
Overtaking on rural roads is sometimes necessary (see above) but it can be a tight squeeze. Ensure that you make yourself seen (or heard) and tackle overtaking with caution.
Watch Out for Livestock
The classic rural road hazard is a very real one. Animals don’t really heed road safety rules, and a crowd of them could storm across the road at a moment’s notice.
Take Care at Railway Crossings
Especially because they do not always have barriers. It’s wise to stop here and have a good look both ways before driving over the track quickly and efficiently.
Rural driving is something that almost any motorist will have to do sooner rather than later, and the most important thing is to appreciate how different it is from urban driving and driving on better, wider roads.