With sharp bends, poor surfaces and limited visibility already making rural roads more dangerous than urban roads or motorways, the leading insurer for the countryside is concerned that the easing of lockdown rules could result in a spate of accidents more people drive in the English countryside.
The hazards of driving in the countryside are shown by government statistics, with 58% of road fatalities in 2018* taking place on rural roads.
To help all rural road users stay safe, the insurer has put together a rural road safety checklist.
It urges motorists to adapt their driving style to take account of rural road hazards and to be aware of slow-moving farm vehicles and vulnerable road users such as horse riders, walkers and the growing number of cyclists on rural roads.
Rebecca Davidson, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “As the main insurer of the countryside, we are very much aware that country roads are more dangerous than motorways and urban roads.
“With more people expected to use countryside routes after weeks of strict lockdown, we are urging all road users to take great care to avoid accidents at a time when the NHS is under huge pressure.
“In the countryside, you never know if there will be a tractor, horses, or a walker round the next corner and every year NFU Mutual deals with claims resulting from serious accidents involving farm vehicles being hit by fast-moving traffic.”
NFU Mutual Rural Road Safe Driving Guide:
• Stick to speed limits - rural roads require different driving skills – sharp bends, unexpected hazards and changing conditions can all catch out the unwary.
• Slow down on winding roads – many accidents occur from drivers taking sharp bends too quickly.
• Slow down for horses – if you’re driving on a rural road you can expect to share it with horses and their riders, so drivers should slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary. If you do need to pass a horse then stay at least a car’s width away from them, pass slowly and don’t make any sudden noises or movements which might spook them.
• Watch out for wildlife – it is quite common for wild animals to appear on country roads.
• Be prepared for livestock delays – farmers often need to use the roads to move livestock to and from their fields. If the road is blocked by livestock then the best thing to do is stop the car, turn off your engine and wait patiently.
• Be patient with farm vehicles; they rarely travel long distances but be prepared for them to slow right down before turning into fields and farmyards.
• Don’t rely on signs and road markings – country roads may not have signage to warns of hazards such as sharp bends, dips, or narrow sections.
• Don’t park in gateways or narrow lanes - farmers need to access fields at any time
• Don’t overcrowd beauty spots and check if they are open first - if a car park or path is busy - go somewhere else to protect your family and others
• Watch out for cyclists – Coronavirus has led to an increase in the number of people cycling in the countryside
For more tips on rural driving click here