Driving on country roads can be a challenge even for the most experienced of drivers. So this is an essential guide to staying safe when driving in the country. We’ll also cover some tips for driving in the country after dark.
What Do We Mean By A Country Road?
We’re defining a country road as any road that is:
- Found in the countryside, away from major towns and cities.
- Tighter and often windier than urban and residential roads.
- Lacking in road markings, and often unlit at night.
Key Things To Be Aware of When Driving on Country Roads
The challenges of country roads are more than just being narrow and bendy. Here are some of the key things to be aware of when driving on country roads:
- Some parts of the country don’t have very good phone coverage. This could interfere with your navigation app. It could also cause some problems if you break down. Be sure to read our guide to what to do if you break down.
- You should never just blindly follow your sat-nav’s directions, this is particularly true in the country. Make sure your navigation’s not sending you down a private road or through standing water or a ford.
- As always, pay attention to road signs as some may be unfamiliar. They might be alerting you to local wildlife, such as horses, deer, ducks, or toads. Or they might be warning you of unusual road traffic, such as horse riders, horses and carriages, or farm vehicles.
- Be aware of potholes, cracks, and uneven cambers and any debris in the road, particularly following high winds.
- Some country roads are long and winding, bordered by trees and high hedges, and with sudden hills and dips. This can make it very hard to see oncoming traffic. Take special care on blind bends and use your horn if you need to alert other road users of your presence.
Passing and Overtaking on Rural Roads
Some rural roads are so narrow that overtaking is difficult or impossible. Unless there are signs explicitly forbidding it, you can overtake slow moving vehicles on single lane roads. However, you should never do this unless you have full visibility of the road ahead of you. So don’t do it on bends, approaching bends or on hills – only do it when you can be sure you’ll be able to overtake smoothly and safely.
Other rural roads are so narrow that cars must basically travel in single file, in both directions. These narrow roads will often have passing points along the way – widened areas that cars can pull into to allow other road users to pass.
How to Pass Horses on the Road
When approaching horses, slow down. When overtaking, if possible, give them more space than you would a car. Don’t rev your engine, honk your horn, or speed up until you’ve safely passed.
Driving in the Country at Night
All of the risk and uncertainty you’ll experience when driving in the country by day is amplified by night. Most country roads do not have street lights so it will be dark, very dark, in some places.
Plan your journey in advance, taking care to stick to major roads as much as possible. These are more likely to be lit, and they’ll be in better condition and much easier to navigate. Also allow more time for your journey. You’ll want to drive a little slower when driving in the country at night, so that you’ll have more time to react to any potential hazards.
Maintain a greater distance than you normally would between yourself and other road users. This way, if you need to stop suddenly, you’ll have more time to react. And take care when using your main beam headlights, to avoid dazzling other drivers.
Read our full guide to driving at night.
Are You Prepared For a Breakdown?
Breaking down on a dark country road can be a worrying experience. By adding breakdown cover to your car insurance policy you can rest assured that you can get the help you need should this happen.
Get in touch to get a quote for your car insurance with added breakdown cover in a matter of minutes.