Country roads account for approximately 60% of all fatalities on Scotland’s roads.
In 2019, over 1,000 people were killed or seriously injured on country roads.1
1Transport Scotland – Reported Road Casualties Scotland 2019
No matter how well you think you know a route, it’s crucial you’re prepared for the unexpected to happen – especially on country roads.
It’s easy to underestimate the risks on country roads. To help stay safe, follow our eight top tips:
- Belt up: It could make a crucial difference to you and your passengers in the event of a crash.
- Watch your speed: Drive at a speed that doesn’t affect your decision-making ability – this could be well below the speed limit.
- Put away any distractions: Ignore your phone, leave your Sat Nav alone and wait until you’ve arrived safely to have that packet of crisps.
- Prepare for the unexpected: You might think you know the road like the back of your hand, but conditions and other traffic are always changing.
- Reduce your speed on bends: You never know what could be around the corner.
- Look out for blind summits and hidden dips: Keep an eye on road signs and slow down as you approach.
- Slow it down on sharp bends: Going a fraction too fast could force you into the middle of the road, leaving you exposed to oncoming traffic.
- Stay in control: Drive to the conditions and be alert to unexpected hazards.
Be hyperaware on Scotland's country roads
Driving on country roads can be challenging even for the most experienced drivers. Single track lanes, blind corners, and even the possibility of animals crossing the road are all aspects of country road driving. These are just some factors that make it essential to prepare for the unexpected, drive to the conditions and be hyperaware of your surroundings.
Why do people take risks?
- They’re not being watched by the police.
- There are fewer ‘hazards’ front of mind e.g. pedestrians, cyclists – although they do recognise that cows, deer and tractors can be a problem.
- Country roads usually have higher speed limits and they get a buzz out of going faster.
- Some become complacent on familiar roads, driving to what the road is usually like, rather than what it’s actually like this time.
- They view external driving conditions as posing bigger risks than their speed.
- If they’re overfamiliar with a route and a car, they might choose to take educated risks.
As a general rule, drivers – and particularly young male drivers – take more risks on country roads than urban ones. But why? Here are some of the reasons.
What are the risks?
Most accidents on country roads are the result of driving too fast for the conditions and subsequent loss of control. Here’s why you should adjust your speed behind the wheel:
- Country roads can be deceptively dangerous.
- Drive too fast and you may not have time to react to the unexpected.
- That means not just obeying the speed limit, but often driving well below it.
- Unpredictability. A tractor might suddenly pull out or there may be mud on the road. Drive with care, just in case.
- Hazards. Driving too fast for the conditions is the most common cause of death on country roads.
- When driving, it’s better to rely on your skills than on luck.