Drive Safer on Rural Roads
Know how to handle hazards associated with country driving this autumn.
According to a 2014 report from TRIP, a national transportation research group, the rate of fatalities is nearly three times higher on rural roads than on urban thoroughfares. Fall is the time of year when many head out to look at the foliage or visit the pumpkin patch and the corn maze. Reduce your risk of an accident with these tips for safely navigating country roads.
Difficult Driving Conditions
- Loose gravel, large potholes, soft shoulders, and narrow roads and bridges are hazards you might encounter while traveling on a rural road. Know how to handle these conditions:
- Slow down to help maintain control.
- Brake slowly when turning or coming to a stop to avoid sliding on loose gravel.
- If you hit a soft shoulder, avoid jerking the wheel. Instead slowly guide the vehicle back to the center of the road.
- Increase your following distance to three to six seconds—or more if your vision is obscured.
- Stay to the far right when driving up a hill or around a curve.
- Always look for approaching vehicles before crossing a one-lane bridge.
Obstacles on the Road
As you venture into the countryside, you’re likely to encounter wild animals, and may have to share the road with farm equipment. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Watch for slow vehicles such as tractors, ATVs and heavy machinery.
- Make sure the drivers see you before passing those vehicles.
- Keep an eye out for wildlife and roaming livestock.
- Do not swerve to miss an animal—you might veer into oncoming traffic or a ditch. Apply your brakes instead.
Poor Driving Choices
A survey conducted by the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety and the University of Minnesota revealed that Americans are most likely to engage in risky behaviors—such as drunk driving, talking on a cell phone and eating—while driving on rural roads. Keep an eye out for distracted drivers, and practice safe driving habits, no matter what type of road you travel on.