If the rural countryside is calling to you, listen up! When you’re navigating back roads and winding country lanes, you need to develop a set of driving skills separate from what you learned back in town. Here’s how to drive safely on country roads and avoid having an accident or breaking down in the middle of nowhere.
Be it day or night, headlights are a must. No matter the time or the degree of visibility, keeping your low-lights on makes your car stand out more and can announce your presence sooner to pedestrians, other cars, and animals. Keep your low beams lit all the time. High beams are good for travelling at night when there’s no sunlight or streetlights. As a courtesy, dim them when you see approaching traffic. Naturally, flick on your hazard lights and pull over if you have an accident or your car breaks down.
Watch Out for Wildlife
The biggest critters to watch for in the city are cats, dogs, and the occasional raccoon or possum. Out in the country the wildlife gets a little bigger and much less cautious. Keep an eye peeled for animals around dawn and dusk. That’s when they’re usually on the move, looking for food, and avoiding predators. Several species will freeze when they see your headlights, so slow down to see the animals before they see you. If you do see animals crossing ahead, most will scatter if you honk your horn and flash your lights. Avoid provoking larger animals such as buffalo and moose. Stop the car and let them move when they’re ready but keep your hazard lights on to warn distant drivers. In general, try to stop, not swerve. You might roll your car.
No Signs Doesn’t Mean Anything Goes
Driving in the country, you might be tempted to barrel down those long country roads. Resist the temptation. Just because you don’t see any speed limit signs doesn’t mean you can drive as fast as you like. The suggested speed limit is about 70 mph for rural country roads, but if you’re unfamiliar with the traffic patterns and terrain of the area, take it slower, especially when the road starts to wind and bend. A cow or tractor or even a carriage might be around every curve, so to be safe assume that they are.
Be Ready for Anything
When figuring out how to drive safely on country roads, create a contingency plan. Clearly, a breakdown in the country is vastly different from one in the city, especially if you don’t know the area. Compile a list of mechanics and gas stations so, if your car does break down, you’re never completely out of reach of help. If you belong to a motor club, consult their resources. Finally, pack an emergency auto kit, as well as snacks, blankets, flashlights, chargers, and maps in case you need to stop and hunker down!