Dealing With Country Lanes
This blog, “Dealing With Country Lanes” will not only help you to pass your driving test but make you a safer driver. Country roads account for a staggering 154,000 miles of the UK road system, in comparison to just over 2000 miles of motorways. This means that over half of the roads in the UK are country roads, and statically they are one of the most hazardous, meaning you should be extra careful whilst using them. Most driving test centres such as Slough, are located on the outskirts of the town and therefore, will have access to country lanes.
Dealing With Country Lanes – Using a Satnav
Country lanes are full of hazards such as hidden turnings, bends of varying sharpness and blindness, dips in the road and hidden crests. Furthermore, there will be trees and hedgerows. All of these require a driver’s expert attention and careful planning. If you have satellite navigation fitted in your car, this can be incredibly beneficial for telling you what’s ahead. Zoom out so you’re on a large scale. This will alert you to the way the road may twist and turn or any junctions. However, this does have its problems. The satnav will not notify you of any dips or crests. The occasional look at the screen may help you to prepare for what’s ahead. Furthermore, a GPS system will not alert you to any potholes or other issues with the road. For details on Satnav driving for the driving, simply watch our video on New Independent Driving Test UK using satnav.
Dealing With Country Lanes – Poor Quality Roads
Country Roads and Lanes are not as well maintained by the councils as city roads. Therefore, there are often greater chances of hitting potholes. Potholes may puncture a tyre, cause defective tracking and can even damage the car mechanically. You should try to avoid potholes by going around them, However, if after checking mirrors, you feel it’s unsafe to go around, you must slow down before going through the pothole. Country lane also tends to be uneven. This can cause several problems during and after wet weather in the form of standing water. Many country lanes do not have effective cambers built or have cambered which have fallen due to poor maintenance or erosion.
A car travelling at a speed that hits standing water will aquaplane. This is where one or more of the tyres lose contact with the road due to a layer of water. The best way to deal with aquaplaning to prevent is happening in the first place. If it is raining or has recently rained, drive at the appropriate speed for the road. If you do hit standing water, try to keep the car straight and don’t use the brakes if possible.
Dealing With Country Lanes – Farm Machinery
Farm traffic such as tractors and trailers frequently use country roads. During a driving test, the examiner will expect you to overtake and make progress. However, you must first make sure it’s safe to overtake. Never try to overtake unless you have a clear view of the road ahead and you’re certain that there are no other vehicles travelling towards you. Luckily, many farm works will move over to let you pass. Plus they rarely travel very far on a public road, so they’ll soon turn off.
Dealing With Country Lanes – Vulnerable Users
A hazard very specific to country roads is the possibility of animals wandering onto the road. Therefore it’s important to remain calm and be ready to stop or slow down suddenly. You should give extra care around deer or wild animal signs, especially in late spring and early autumn. Be aware of vulnerable road users. These can include pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. You should always slow down for a horse and do not do anything which could startle them, like the sound of the horn or be revving your engine. Horse riders are at their most vulnerable on the tight and twisting country road bends. The moment you spot a horse rider, check your rearview mirror and slow down. If vehicles are behind, slow down sooner to give the vehicles time to reduce speed. The vehicles behind may not be able to see the horses.
Cyclists should be overtaken as you would a vehicle, giving them the same amount of space, if not, more. Some experienced cyclists may move to the centre of the road if there is not enough space to overtake them safely. Not only are they permitted to do this, but the Highway Code also encourages them to do so. So have patience and wait for enough space to safely overtake. You should also be wary of pedestrians and assume that there could be one around every corner.
Dealing With Country Lanes – Blind Bends
When dealing with sharp turns in the road, it often helps to slow down well before the turn. Break before you enter it the turn, brake and change down a gear. This will put you in a better position to accelerate through the bend itself, allowing you to maintain better control of the vehicle. Speed is also an important factor to consider. The signs posted can sometimes be deceptive. Remember all speed limits are limits, not targets. Many country lanes are the national speed limit, which is 60mph. However, speeds this high are unsuitable for the narrowness of the road and potential hazards. You should continuously assess whether you’re at the right speed for the conditions of the road and whether you feel in control. You must drive at a speed at which you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear.
In conclusion, country road driving is often a great deal more difficult than urban roads. Multiple hazards and reduced visibility makes them incredibly dangerous. Therefore observations are paramount, combined with driving carefully and staying alert can help you have a smooth and enjoyable ride through the countryside.