In this blog we discover one of the risks of driving on country roads, the possibility of oncoming traffic encroaching into the lane we are in.
One of the features of the BIG TOM “Beginners” intensive course is the experience that pupils get of driving on country roads. There are a disproportionate amount of accidents on country roads for the volume of traffic that uses them. There are a variety of characteristics of country roads (often referred to as “rural” roads), that present increased risk factors. One of these risk factors is the potential for oncoming traffic to be encroaching on to the lane that we are driving in. Often, the reason for oncoming traffic doing that is logical and quite necessary but it can be the unexpected nature in which they present themselves that makes for an increased risk.
If we look at the first example in this video, it is quite simply an agricultural vehicle using the oncoming lane, but because the road is not particularly wide and the tractor is, that means it naturally ‘overhangs’ slightly into the lane we are driving in. The fact that it comes around the right bend with little warning is what might make some drivers feel increased anxiety or maybe even react with excessive steering or braking. We should be expecting agricultural vehicles on country roads, they often temporarily use the public roads in the day to day necessities of farming life.
The second example is also ‘blind’ to us as we travel along the road. A slight right bend again limits the vision of what is coming our way. Quite suddenly we see a vehicle travelling in our direction, within our lane, and this time it is overtaking a cyclist that we cannot see until virtually level with it. Cyclists use country roads, as do motorcyclists, as do horse riders and as do slow moving vehicles like tractors – it really is to be expected that traffic is going to overtake these moving hazards on country roads.
The skill becomes a bit more of a mindset, an anticipation that hazards are going to crop up on these roads. When you consider that they tend to involve faster maximum speed limits, slower moving vulnerable road users and on thinner roads that often have bends, you can start to realise why they pose an increased risk.
This willingness to accept that hazards may be up ahead even when a driver cannot necessarily see any, is a mindset of “defensive driving”. It is the application of defensive driving techniques that will result in safer driving and less collisions.