Country roads can be deadly
Driving on these narrow, twisty roads is much more risky.
Ways to stay safe
Road conditions matter
Take extra care if you’re driving in the country
Country roads can be unpredictable and full of potential hazards. That’s why accidents on these roads are more likely to result in serious injury or death.
It’s up to all of us to take responsibility. That means driving safely and looking out for people who are more vulnerable.
What you need to know
- Things like higher speeds and tighter bends make country roads more dangerous
- Collisions on country roads account for around 62% of all deaths on Scotland’s roads
- All drivers need to be aware of the potential hazards
- You can follow some simple tips for staying safe
- Remember to think about the road and weather conditions
Why are country roads so dangerous?
Country roads are narrow, twisting, with reduced visibility, and tend to have higher speed limits. So the very nature of them sadly explains why the outcome of accidents can be so deadly.
No matter how well you know a road, it’s easy to underestimate the risks in the country. It’s important to always be ready for the unexpected to happen.
Over 700 people were killed or seriously injured on country roads in 2020**
**Transport Scotland – Reported Road Casualties 2020 Reported road casualties by type.
More risky behaviour
On country roads drivers take more risks – especially if they’re young males.
Here are some reasons why:
- Higher speed limits add to the excitement of driving faster
- Drivers think they’re less likely to be caught by the police
- There are often fewer visible hazards, although they can be hidden around the corner
- Local drivers might be complacent because they use the same roads regularly
Potential hazards around every corner
Country roads have more unexpected hazards to deal with. With faster speeds and unpredictable road conditions, it’s a dangerous combination.
Here are some of the main hazards to watch out for:
- Vehicles or animals at farm or field entrances. These junctions often have mud and other debris on the road too
- Escaped farm animals wandering on the road
- Animals being walked on roads by farm workers
- Wild animals
- Large agricultural vehicles:
- These can take up the whole road
- Be ready to slow down, or stop if necessary
- They might also stop before turning into a field
- Horse riders – always slow down and obey the signals given by the horse rider
- Cyclists and motorcyclists can be harder to spot – always look out for them, especially at junctions and bends
Driving safely is more important than ever
Safe driving on country roads really can save lives.
Here are some simple tips to help you drive in the safest way possible:
- Always wear a seatbelt
- Drive at the right speed for the road conditions
- Leave plenty of time to react
- Slow down at bends, especially tight ones – you never know what’s around the corner
- Put away distractions like your phone, the Sat-Nav or food and drink
- Look out for warning signs at blind summits and hidden dips
- Check all road markings, as these can highlight hazards
- Always stay in control and keep in a safe position on the road
- Drive to the conditions and stay alert for unexpected hazards
…if you do have an accident on a country road, the emergency services will take longer to reach you, as it’s often more difficult to find your location.
Think about the road conditions
On country roads you can never be sure what conditions you’ll come across.
There are some things worth keeping in mind:
- A lack of maintenance can mean indistinct white lining, signage or surface defects
- The route may have blind bends, hidden dips and junctions
- Slow vehicles or other road users may appear suddenly
- Always expect the unexpected
- Some routes will be single track roads with passing places, so be courteous and patient
- You might need to give way to larger vehicles on narrow roads and tracks
- Pedestrians don’t always walk facing the traffic, even though it’s recommended
- Watch out for hikers and pedestrians on roads where there are no footpaths
- Be aware that pedestrians might cross before a bend to get better visibility
Remember the weather
The weather in Scotland can change very quickly and poor weather conditions can be particularly dangerous on country roads. So always remember to drive safely for the conditions.