Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Country Roads

On this lesson, you’ll learn how to drive safely on Country Roads.

You’ll also understand how to assess and approach sharp bends.

They may:

  • be narrow
  • have fast speed limits
  • have uneven surfaces
  • be badly maintained
  • not have footpaths
  • have farm vehicles and animals crossing
  • have mud on the road
  • have sharp bends

Extra care should be taken on country roads.

They can be very hazardous to drive on.

Narrow Roads

Country roads can be very narrow in places, and sometimes not wide enough for 2 cars to pass each other. You must drive along these roads always expecting another car to approach.

If another car approaches, use the Hazard Routine (M S P S L routine) to deal with the situation safely.

You may need to:

  • pull into a passing place on your side of the road
  • wait opposite a passing place on the opposite side of the road
  • be prepared to reverse into a passing place if necessary

Speed Limits

Many country roads have a 60pmh speed limit. This is not necessarily the speed you need to drive at. It is not a target!

Always drive at an appropriate speed. Drive at a speed in which you can:

‘Stop in the Distance you can See to be Clear’

One reason why country roads have the most fatal accidents is because of drivers going too fast for the conditions of the road and sharpness of the bend.

Look ahead for speed limit signs and other clues that the speed limit is about to change. If you notice houses or a village ahead then the limit is probably going to be reduced to 30mph.

Uneven Surfaces

Country roads have a tendency to be uneven. This can become a particular problem when there is water on the road. On regular roads, there is a camber that allows water to drain to the edges. On country roads, there may be deep puddles in the middle of the road. Driving through deep puddles at speed can cause a car to aquaplane (tyres loose contact with the road surface). It can have an effect on your steering and can cause damage to the engine.

If you are not sure how deep a puddle is you could:

  • watch other vehicles drive through (ones that are similar to your vehicle in size)
  • put something (a stick) into the water to test the depth

Badly Maintained Roads

Look to your far distance and middle distance while driving along a country road. You also need to check your near distance to recognise what condition the road is in. Driving through deep pot holes or over branches can cause damage to your tyres and may cause an accident.

No Footpaths

No footpaths on rural roads can mean that pedestrians will be walking on the road.

Look out for them and give them plenty of space as you pass.

As you go around bends be aware that there may be a pedestrian on the road, so drive around at an appropriate speed.

Farm Vehicles and Animals Crossing

You need to be patient and not feel pressured into overtaking slow-moving vehicles, even if there are cars behind wanting you to pass it.
Keep a good distance behind the farm vehicle so that you get good visibility ahead. You cannot choose to overtake unless you can see clearly what is approaching you, and what junctions and farm entrances are ahead.
Check your mirrors frequently. You need to know what the vehicles behind you are doing. They may decide to overtake when it is unsafe.

Before overtaking the farm vehicle, use the Hazard Routine (M S P S L):

MIRRORS – Check middle and right mirror to check it is safe to pull out.
SIGNAL – Signal your intention
POSITION – Change your position
SPEED – Speed up (you may decide to change into a lower gear first, this will help give you more acceleration)
LOOK – Look well ahead

Pass horses and riders ‘Wide and Slow’. Do not rev your engine or beep your horn. This can startle the animal and cause both animal and rider injury.

Mud on the Road

Mud on a country road can be a sign that farm vehicles are about.

Look to see where the mud track goes, be aware that a tractor could emerge from a concealed field.

Mud on the road can cause you to skid if you accelerate, brake or steer too harshly while driving over it.

Sharp Bends

There are lots of bends on country roads. You may see signs or road markings which will tell you where there are bends, and which way the road turns.

Driving Through a Bend

When approaching a bend, you need to assess how sharp it is. If you do not assess this correctly you could drive around too quickly and lose control of your vehicle.

Look for signs and markings that will help you to assess it.

Slow down in good time and select a lower gear if necessary.

You need to brake and select your gear before you start to steer. You should not be changing gear or braking while you are in the bend…you will have less control of the car.

As you enter the bend, press the gas pedal enough to keep the car at the same speed which you entered the bend.

Position on the Bend

Left hand bend – position to the centre of your lane
Right hand bend – position to the left of your lane
These positions will give you a better view of the road ahead.

Limit Point Analysis

Limit Point Analysis is a method of assessing how sharp a bend is, and when you need to be slowing down or speeding up.

The Limit Point is the point at which the left and right sides of the road meet, so the most distant point which you can see.

To use this technique as you approach you should look well ahead.

If the Limit Point is getting closer to you, slow your speed. Continue to reduce your speed until the Limit Point begins to move with you and then your view opens up again.

As the Limit Point is getting further from you, you can increase your speed.

Always drive around bends – expecting to have a stationary vehicle just out of sight!

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