Driving on Rural Roads

Driving on Rural Roads

Secondary roads in remote and/or rural areas may present hazards that drivers often don’t think about. Some safety considerations for rural driving are reviewed below.

Extra caution is required when driving on “country roads” because they are often not designed for efficient high-speed travel like urban roadways.

The following safety hazards are likely to be found on rural roads:

  • Lack of signs or accurate maps
  • Blind curves
  • Narrow width (not sufficient for vehicles to pass safely)
  • No shoulder or guard rails
  • Soft surface (un-compacted gravel or dirt)
  • Rough or damaged road surface or loose gravel
  • Obstacles on road (slow-moving vehicles, animals, debris)
  • Unusually steep hills or sharp curves
  • Slow moving traffic
  • Uncontrolled intersections
  • Dust from other vehicles or farmers in their fields

Intersections, hills and curves become even more dangerous when there are objects such as trees, cornfields or buildings blocking the driver’s view of oncoming traffic.

Blind curves and dips
Mountain roads have many sharp curves that could possibly prevent seeing approaching traffic. Rural and desert roads may follow the topography of the landscape, resulting in many dips and rises that create blind spots in the road ahead.

Approaching vehicles, livestock or wild animals on the road, or slow-moving vehicles may be encountered without warning. When approaching a blind curve, a dip or a rise on a narrow road, slow down and keep to the right. Watch for dust indicating on-coming traffic and sound your horn to warn approaching vehicles if lack of visibility warrants.

Stay as far right as possible when entering a blind curve. Dips in the road may be due to creeks where animals congregate on or near the road. Approach carefully if in a free-range area, or in twilight or darkness.

Steep hills and curves
Hills and curves on rural roads are often steeper and sharper than on highways. Before reaching the crest of a hill or before entering a curve, slow down, move to the right side of the road and watch for oncoming vehicles.

Intersections are any place where traffic merges or crosses. Before you enter an intersection, look left, right and left again for approaching vehicles and in a rural area you should watch for animals. When stopped, look left, right and left again just before you start moving.

Look across the intersection before you start to move to make sure the path is clear all the way through the intersection. Pay particular attention to curves or hills close to the intersection as you may be obstructed from the view of oncoming traffic.