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Drivers ‘oblivious’ to the risks of country roads

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More than half (60%) of fatalities occur on country roads but drivers are oblivious to the risks, according to Think! which is launching a new campaign to raise awareness among drivers.

On average, three people die each day on rural roads - nearly 11 times higher than on motorways. A quarter of drivers have had a near miss and one driver in 20 has had a collision on a country road, and

New research shows many more drivers are needlessly putting themselves at risk of an accident.

A quarter of drivers report having had a near miss on a country road, while 40% have been surprised by an unexpected hazard, such as an animal. A third also confess to taking a bend too fast.

These findings suggest many drivers are failing to anticipate dangers on the road ahead. The research mirrors newly published casualty statistics which show that the most commonly reported contributory factor to being killed or seriously injured on country roads is motorists losing control, often because they are driving too fast for the conditions.

The new Think! campaign urges drivers using country roads to:

  • Read the road ahead and anticipate potential hazards.
  • Drive at a speed that allows you to stop in the distance you can see to be clear.
  • Stay in control and give yourself time to react by braking before a bend, not on it.
  • Give cyclists and horse riders plenty of space when overtaking.

Road Safety Minister Robert Goodwill said; "I want the public to understand these risks and adapt their driving to the conditions they face. That is why the new Think! country road campaign is so important – we are urging drivers to read the road ahead, select a safe speed and brake before the bend."

The Think! campaign has been backed by British Touring Car champion James Cole. He said: "As a young racing driver, I learnt a number of key skills, such as looking ahead and judging the road conditions. These skills are equally important for everyday driving in Britain.

"Being a responsible driver, I try to anticipate hidden hazards and brake before the bend, and this is critical on country roads - you just don’t know what’s around the next corner."

The new Think! advertising campaign uses 3D scanning technology to illustrate that country roads are full of unforeseen hazards. This technique allows viewers to ‘see’ through the bends on a country road and spot the unexpected dangers ahead.

The message for drivers is that, in the real world, you can’t see the perils that may lie behind a bend so it’s always best to slow down and give yourself time to react.

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  • Mal Rixon - 14/10/2014 10:33

    That's because most country roads have a national speed limit, 50 or 60 mph therefore this takes the responsibility outside of the average thinking driver as if its 60 mph, that's what I will drive at

  • barnwellr - 14/10/2014 11:10

    I agree with with article and Mal. I live in the country and 40mph is a good speed for many small country roads. You have pedestrians with prams, dog walkers, horses, cyclists, joggers, and sometimes cattle all just behind the corner. No pavements and narrow roads and speed!!!

  • Edward Handley - 14/10/2014 19:05

    It is not surprising that country roads have the highest fatality rate. What many people fail to appreciate is just how many serious but not fatal (to humans at least) collisions occur on those "quiet" country roads. There are good reasons for this: Most country roads are subject to the 60 mph national speed limit which is often completely inappropriate on narrow roads with poor sight lines, loose surfaces and a multitude of hidden hazards. Many drivers do not seem to understand that that speed limits are maximums, not targets, and that driving at inappropriate speeds on country roads leaves you with no margin for error, and that errors can carry a death penalty. Usually the death is an animal - circa 60,000 deer a year plus a huge number of foxes, cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, pheasants, etc., and occasionally a human because trees do not have impact absorbing crumple zones. Many country roads are less than 2 cars wide, so 2 cars travelling at a "steady and perfectly legal" 50 mph have a 100 mph closing speed and that is too fast for most people's reaction times. Drivers seldom drive at a speed where they actually can stop within the distance they can see is clear, and very few understand that on narrow roads you have to drive at a speed where you can stop in half the distance you can see - because you need to allow space for the idiot coming the other way! Its no surprise that when collisions occur on country roads the first thing most drivers say is "YOU were going too fast"! In my experience, very few drivers seem to understand that large vehicles need to drive along narrow country roads - tractors, combine harvesters, milk trucks, cattle lorries, delivery trucks, etc. When a car driver meets something large and heavy coming the other way they often panic, hit the brakes and lose control. ABS, ESC, etc do help to prevent collisions but they cannot overcome the laws of physics or the principle of natural selection. When a car driver crashes into a heavy truck on a country road the first thing the driver almost inevitably says is "You should not be on this road - its too narrow"! Drivers need to understand the dangers of country roads better and must learn to behave in a more responsible manner. Modern cars are fast, quiet and have superb suspension which smooths out the bumps and potholes in country roads so most drivers do not realise just how fast they are travelling - until they find they cannot stop . There is a huge need for better driver education and training but most learner drivers never encounter country roads because they are not tested on them and most instructors know enough to avoid them like the plague because they do not want to risk their living by having their driving school hatchback splattered across the front of a big 4x4 driven by an idiot suffering from delusions of security.

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