Rural roads in the UK most dangerous - a message for the world?

Rural roads in the UK most dangerous - a message for the world?

In the UK 60% of all fatalities occur on country roads. These roads often have sharp bends, blind bends and unexpected hazards so brake before the bend to give yourself time to react and stay in control. In many parts of the world, these types of roads are the main style of major roads in low and middle income countries and so guidance here could apply globally.

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The facts: 60% of all fatalities occur on country roads in the UK, three people die each day on average on country roads, the number of people killed on country roads is nearly 11 times higher than on motorways, in 2013, there were 1,070 fatalities and 9,104 serious injuries on country roads.

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In many parts of the world, country roads in the UK are often the major style of road networks in low and middle income countries. Therfore the advice given in the UK for country roads could be applicable to road networks around the world.

Alison’s story
Alison, who works at a riding school, was riding with her 10 year old son and her boss in November 2013. They were all experienced riders and were wearing high viz tabards and so were the horses. They were returning to the stable yard, it was approaching dusk and raining, and they were about to turn right into the yard. A car coming towards them was approaching slowly, which prevented them from making the turn home.

Alison was at the rear and heard a car from behind coming over the hill. She expected to hear braking, but instead the car ploughed into Alison and her horse at 45mph, throwing them on to the car bonnet and then off into the other riders. Alison lay on the ground concussed. Her horse had gone through the car’s windscreen and broken its back, so had to be put down at the scene. The other two horses were injured, one broke its jaw and the other injured its leg. Alison’s son thought she had been killed.

Alison spoke with the driver in court. He said he didn’t see them although it was a straight road. He suggested it was due to him dipping his headlights as he saw the other car coming past. The driver received 9 points and a fine.
The riding school, where Alison works, has to regularly use this part of this road when they take children and adult riders out for hacks. There is also a livery yard and a dairy farm on it. There have been 2 other direct hits in this 2 mile radius in the past 2 years.

country road
In many countries, sharp and winding roads, hillier areas and a lack of signage can make these roads very dangerous.

“We were ploughed into from behind, a bit like sitting ducks really. As well as losing my horse, it has had a terrible effect on my 10 year old son. He saw that I wasn’t moving and thought I was dead. He’s now receiving counselling.

“I’ve had 3 other near misses on that road, we regularly get abuse from drivers who are annoyed about having to slow down. There have been 8 or 9 incidents in one small area over the past few years.”

THINK! Advice

  • The best drivers read the road ahead and anticipate potential hazards. Look out for upcoming bends, hidden dips, blind summits and concealed entrances.
  • Country roads often have sharp bends. To stay in control and give yourself time to react to unexpected hazards, brake before the bend, not in it.
  • Overgrown verges, bushes and trees on country roads can block your view and potentially obscure an oncoming hazard. Always drive at a speed which will allow you to stop in the distance you can see to be clear (double that on a single track road). Allow more time to stop on wet or slippy surfaces.
  • The speed limit is a limit not a target. The national speed limit on single carriage roads is 60mph, but there will be times you need to drive under that in order to drive correctly for the conditions. In fact most people do on these roads – the average free flow speed is 48mph.
  • If you get stuck behind a slow moving vehicle be patient. Dips in roads, bends and other junctions joining your road often hide oncoming vehicles, so unless it's absolutely essential, don't overtake.
  • If passing more vulnerable road users such as horse riders, cyclists and walkers, pass wide and slow.
  • Even if you’re familiar with a country road, never take it for granted as the conditions can be different every time.

country roads vid
Watch the 'If you could see - Tractor' PSA on Youtube.

Read more about the country roads campaign here.




Read more about the UK's Country Road Campaign