Look beyond the obvious for safety clues on country roads, says GEM

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to look beyond the obvious for clues that will keep them safe on rural road journeys this summer.

As traffic levels rise with the easing of coronavirus restrictions, GEM anticipates large numbers of people making the most of sunny days for journeys in the country.

To stay safe on a rural road, it’s vital to use not only the information given by signs and road markings, but also to do your own detective work to anticipate potential hazards on the road ahead, says GEM.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth commented: “Driving in the countryside is usually a great pleasure, with good views, quiet roads and a variety of interesting terrain. But country roads are used by many different people and vehicles, so it’s vital to look for the clues – some obvious, others less so – as to what might be round the next bend.

“That’s why we’re urging drivers to expect the unexpected and to make sure they always have time and space to stop safely if necessary.

Source: GEM Motoring Assist

“What’s round the corner on a rural road with restricted visibility? It could be another car or a motorcycle coming towards you too fast, a group of cyclists on a ride out, sheep or cattle crossing the road, a horse and rider, a wild animal, a slow-moving farm tractor…

“Until you have perfect sight of what’s ahead, you need to be ready to anticipate what could be there. By adjusting your speed and position accordingly, you’re doing your bit to keep yourself and the other road users safe.”

Simple detective work can often provide useful information about what may be on the road ahead. Here are some examples:

  • If you see mud on the road, expect to meet tractors or other slow-moving farm vehicles.
  • If you smell (or see) fresh-cut grass, look out for the mowing vehicle round the next bend.
  • The sight or smell of horse manure tells you that horses and riders are close by.
  • If there are wheelie bins at the end of driveways, then watch out for the bin lorry.

GEM has prepared a selection of five simple driver tips to help improve rural road safety:

What are the signs telling you?
Make sure you use any existing signage to help you. Usual signs include a series of white chevron signs on a black background, indicating a sharp bend. Slow down, even if the posted speed limit is 30 mph.

Room for two?
The narrowness of country lanes means that passing places are sometimes provided into embankments or verges. Be prepared to reverse into these if necessary.

Safe speeds
Stay safe by never exceeding the signed limit. Country lanes are often used as a short cut or an escape from congested main roads. Using them may actually be a longer way round to your destination leading you to be in a hurry. Slow down.

Bumpy roads
Country lanes may be in a poor state of repair. At any sign of this be ready for pot-holes and other broken surfaces that can seriously damage your vehicle.

Think horse
Give horse riders a very slow and wide berth and keep your distance until it becomes safe to pull past.

Source: GEM Motoring Assist