Three-in-10 motorists avoid narrow country lanes and are prepared to take a detour to avoid them, according to new research Ageas and the RAC.
On average, people are prepared to add 16 miles – more than a half marathon – to their journey if it means they can avoid driving down this type of road. They would also be willing to add another 25 minutes to their drive
More than half of drivers (58%) say they find using narrow country roads stressful, a figure that rises to 76% for drivers who live in urban areas.
More than a quarter (27%) of drivers from urban areas say they will always stick to wider main roads instead and would be willing to add 23 miles or 30 minutes to their journey to avoid them, 14 miles and 10 minutes more than their rural counterparts.
The two biggest causes of stress, according to the research, are the difficulty of squeezing past other vehicles in tight spaces (62%) and the fear of colliding with another vehicle head on (61%).
RAC Breakdown spokesman Simon Williams said: “These figures show just how uncomfortable many drivers are using doing this, especially those who are used to wider city roads with much better visibility.
“For any driver less confident with tackling rural lanes the message has to be to plan a journey properly before setting out, and drive at the right speed according to the nature of the road, even if the official limit is 60mph.
“We’d also advise not becoming too reliant on a car’s sat-nav – while ducking off a main road to shave off a few minutes might seem like a good idea, if you’re then faced with having to carefully negotiate a tractor and queue of vehicles coming the other way, any advantage is soon lost.”
Having to try to reverse back to find a passing place (45%), the fear of meeting a tractor and not being able to pass (44%) and deciding who succumbs to back up to a passing place (37%) make up drivers’ top five stress factors.
More than a third (36%), meanwhile, say they think the default 60mph limit on country roads is just too fast to begin with, while 35% say they fear damaging their car.
The research also suggests that some motorists are more vocal than others when it comes to deciding who has to reverse, with one-in-10 drivers admitting they have had an argument with another driver over who should go back when driving on a narrow country road.
Robin Challand, claims director at Ageas Insurance, said: “Our research shows the type of roads we drive on can also be a cause of stress, with crashes and scrapes high on the list of people’s concerns, so we’re urging people to stay calm and – most importantly – stay safe this summer.
“Negotiating narrow rural lanes can be tricky, even for the most seasoned of drivers, but by following some simple tips and staying calm, you can avoid adding a damaged car to your list of things to get stressed about this summer.”